Nurses are subjected to assault and battery every day by patients.
Hospitals cover it up.
Nurses are told they cannot press charges after being threatened, punched, kicked and sometimes straight beaten.
Today, a nurse was MURDERED in the ICU he worked at. Shot dead along with two other people.
Every day I go to work, I expose myself to the most violent people imaginable. I run the risk of contracting countless numbers of diseases that will kill me. I am insulted, cussed at, screamed at, and all the while am expected to maintain my professionalism. The following incident took away some of my mid-west innocence, even after working the street in some of the worst places in Los Angeles.
She called me down the hallway, wanting to talk to me in private. Her nephew had been shot in a drive-by two nights before. He was 17, and the single bullet which severed his spinal cord halfway down his back changed his life in an instant. The irony of the situation? The bullet was meant for the brother he borrowed the car he was driving from.
The entire family was strangely happy. His girlfriends were doting on him. “Ace” and his family were ignoring the truth. He would never walk again.
I too doted on him. He seemed to be a good kid, and I wanted to make sure he was comfortable, but it was very apparent that no one was facing the truth.
“You will be able to walk again man! You just need to be right with god.”
I inwardly cringed, becoming more and more concerned. If discharge began on admission, I was already behind. He had no other injuries and was headed straight to rehab from the ICU.
During a break in visiting hours, after kicking everyone out of the room, I pulled a chair up to the head of his bed.
“Ace, I think we should talk.”
“Yeah? What’s up?”
This was NOT the conversation I wanted to be having with a 17 year old.
“You doing okay with all of this?”
He quickly looked from my face to the ceiling.
“Yeah, I am.”
I could tell I was losing him.
“Do you understand how badly you are hurt?”
He looked me in the eye, and oh so quitely said, “Yeah, but I am not ready to talk about it yet.”
My hand went to his shoulder and gave it a squeeze.
“Ok, but when you are, you let us know, ok? I want to make sure we are doing everything we can for you.”
I asked him if he needed anything right then and left the room, respecting his wishes, knowing that he did understand, neither of us having to say the words. Somehow I felt that this kid was going to be okay.
Imagine my surprise when his furious, short, very fat aunt, who had been all smiles to me just a few hours before, threated to kill me.
Just like that. In the hallway of the hospital.
“If you EVER tell my nephew he isn’t gonna walk again we will kill you!”
I had no idea that was what was what waiting for me when I followed her down the hall ‘someplace more private.’
It suddenly dawned on me.
I was a white nurse, caring for a black 17 year old kid, in the worst part of Philadelphia. He was shot in a drive-by, his brother was a known gang member. The family was looking for someone to blame. An avenue for their anger.
I was it.
I don’t remember any more of the conversation, just that woman’s anger, and for the first time in my life, being afraid.
The conversation was short, and as I turned the corner, back to the the nurse’s station, all eyes were on me. They had heard the raised voices, but not the words. The manager and security were immediately called. I had an escort out to my car in the parking lot that night. The security guys meant well, but what were they going to do other than get shot too? They didn’t have a gun. They would have simply been two more victims.
For the record? I am a gun advocate. I have my concealed carry permit. Unfortunately, hospitals are one of those ‘sacred’ areas in which guns are not allowed. I know someone will correct me if that is an incorrect statement, but every hospital I have worked at has ‘immediate termination’ in their hospital rules if you are caught carrying. Sounds like colleges and universities does it not?
Please don’t think I would be packing heat for a shift. But hire someone who can. Back up nurses when they are threatened, assaulted and injured by patients. Don’t make them the victim twice.
Why is it ok for nurses to take this kind of violence?
My thoughts are on the families of the victims in Georgia.