Help stop violent attacks on health care workers
This petition had 13,358 supporters
When you work in an Emergency Room, you see a lot. I’ve been a nurse in an ER in Riverside, CA for over 25 years, and I’ve developed pretty good instincts.
One night, I had a young patient who was clearly in some mental distress. My gut told me that I was in danger. I called security, but because of our hospital’s policies, they wouldn’t even come in the room, since the patient hadn’t actually attacked me. Yet.
I listened to my instincts, and asked two coworkers to come in the room with me for my protection while I continued to attempt to treat the patient. I was standing close enough to draw blood, and turned to my workstation for just a moment. Out of the corner of my eye I could see him coming at me, and that was the last thing I saw for about ten minutes.
The patient had punched me in the back of the head, slamming my head into the concrete wall. I was temporarily blinded, but I could hear the sounds of the patient’s father and one of my coworkers subduing him.
This whole time, security did nothing. The police wouldn’t take down a statement. There was nothing they could do, they said. I was badly injured, and out of work for several weeks recovering. If it hadn’t have been for the two coworkers that I brought into the room for my protection, I shudder to think of what could have happened. I don’t think I’d be writing this today.
I was traumatized by the experience, but sadly I was not surprised. Ask any health care worker you know and they are bound to have a story about violence in the workplace. Too often, hospital management does nothing to respond to these recurring incidents, preferring to cut corners and increase profits, leaving workers in danger.
I don’t blame the mentally unstable young patient who hurt me. I was injured by my hospital’s policies, and by the fact that there is currently no system in place to address issues of workplace violence.
Nurses, med techs, and other health care workers are on the front lines every day keeping all of our loved ones safe. We shouldn’t have to put our own lives at risk to care for the lives of others. Every hospital and medical facility should have a task force in place that makes sure hospital policies keep *both* health care workers and patients safe.
Please join me in urging the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) and the California Hospital Association to take immediate steps to address the crisis of workplace violence by requiring that every medical facility have a workplace violence prevention plan that puts the safety of patients and health care workers first.
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