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Nurses face risks from violent patients

Being a nurse is one of the most dangerous jobs a person can have. Between exposure to infectious diseases and chemical contamination, there are many ways nurses can sustain injuries even with plenty of safety measures in place.

However, another often overlooked threat is violent patients. Nurses have to see numerous patients every day, and some of them may suffer from mental illness and other problems. Hospitals should never accept patient violence as a matter of fact. Nurses should take every reasonable measure to protect themselves from harm.

What most often causes the violence?

Researchers wanted to get to the bottom of why a surprising number of patients turn violent. They found three main categories the patients fall into. Forty percent of violent patients suffer from a cognitive issue. This may include a patient with dementia who does not understand the surroundings or a patient heavily intoxicated from alcohol or other drugs.

Another category involves when nurses do their jobs in a manner that is discomforting for the patient. For example, a patient may be afraid of needles, but the nurse must use a needle for an important procedure. The patient's fear may overtake their body and cause him or her to cause harm. 

Researchers describe the third category as "situational events." This occurs when patients go into a situation alien or unfamiliar to them, and then lash out. A patient may want to leave a room, but the nurse forbids such an action. Frustrated, the patient attacks.

One reason so many attacks like these take place is that nurses are typically caught off guard. Nurses require better training so that they can identify the signs that a patient may lash out. It is not only nurses who need to watch out. Security guards and other workers at the hospital are all at-risk when a patient will not cooperate. 

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