Are You Prepared to Handle a Disruptive Patient?
In the middle of the night at a hospital in rural Wyoming, a drunken patient stumbled in. He wasn't even looking for the emergency room. He was trying to find his way home. When the emergency department tried to help, he became physical, injuring two nurses and a doctor. What would you do?
Some of you work in facilities with security. Some security personnel may even be armed with guns or tasers. Many rural facilities do not have that option, so it is up to the hospital staff to handle all security concerns.
Most of us want to help out. We are in the medical field because of our love of people, our talents with healing them, and our need to help out anyone who walks through the door. Putting yourself at risk without prior training, however, is not a smart move. Many facilities will, at some time, offer some type of training aimed at disarming a hostile patient or family member, usually through "talking them down" just like you do with some of your patients. No one knows the hour or the situation they will encounter suych a situation, but taking additional training like this is helpful and could save you or someone else from getting seriously injured when someone flips out.
Though not a respiratory concern per se, we often associate ourselves most with emergency room nurses. I think this is because we form a bond through emergency situations with them, working in close quarters and doing lifesaving work. Just remember that unless you care for yourself and your colleagues first, there will be no one to care for the sick.
In my opinion, it is hard to tell what a patient, a family member, or even a member of the community is thinking. Though you may think everything is under control, for them, it may not appear that way. Take training, if offered, to handle these situations. If training is not offered, find out why. Many police departments are willing to teach classes that allow us to defend ourselves within reason, and some colleges may be helpful, too, particularly if they have a psychology department to handle mental issues, either permanent, temporary, or drug-induced.
By the time you call the police, the incident is likely over and done with and the person is gone away. The only ones left are the victims -- us -- in his or her wake. Have a procedure in place and practice how you will handle these types of situations. Take care of yourself.
That's just my opinion,
Jim Thacker, MHA, CRT, AE-C