Staying Safe While Nursing

Nursing is a great profession, but it has changed a lot since I first qualified. In some ways, it has got better. For example, there are more opportunities open to nurses, and it is easier to get further training and specialize than it used to be. However, not everything has changed for the better. A problem that has become a lot worse over the past few years is attacks on staff. In many countries, the number of physical attacks on healthcare workers has increased significantly. For example, in America, nursing is now one of the most dangerous professions. In 2014, one in three hospitals there reported a significant increase in attacks on staff.  The issue had become so serious that the World Health Organization (WHO) has issued guidelines to help to reduce the number of incidents. 

Do not ignore the issue
It is not nice to feel that you are at risk of being attacked in your workplace, but it is not wise to ignore the issue either. Being aware of the danger is the first step to staying safe and dealing successfully with incidents if they occur. If you are alert to the possibility of an attack and know what to do in that situation, you are much more likely to be able to diffuse the situation quickly and stop things from escalating.

Take advantage of conflict training
Increasingly hospitals and clinics are offering their staff training to help them to deal with potentially dangerous situations. This training comes in different forms, and you should take advantage of all of these training opportunities. Understanding how to quickly calm down a combative patient can stop a situation escalating into violence. Simple self-defense techniques can help you to subdue someone who is much bigger and stronger than you are without causing serious injury to them.

Follow the prescribed safety protocols
Most hospitals now have safety protocols in place. Protocols that you should follow if a patient or visitor becomes agitated or violent. These protocols have been carefully thought out, so are often highly effective.
If you are provided with safety equipment like attack alarms or RF tags carry them at all times. Always wear your ID and NHS lanyard. Doing so will make sure that you can easily be identified by security staff when they arrive to sort out a confrontation. Your lanyard is also something most attackers will grab to pull you in for the attack. NHS lanyards breakaway when that happens, which gives you a few seconds to get away. If the attacker grabs your arm, the chances of getting away and not getting hurt are low.

Always report incidents
If you do experience an incident, it is very important to report it even if you are not injured. Doing so ensures that the managers of the facility you work in understand just how big an issue personal attacks are, enabling them to allocate the necessary funds and resources to deal with the issue.
If you are concerned about a situation, make sure that you talk to your manager about it. Bear in mind that it is hard for those who do not work on the wards to see the danger. You have to make them aware of the situation before they can take the necessary steps to protect you.

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