The Other Side of Nurse Abuse

One Google search would reveal that the most known form of nurse abuse involves a patient or a co-worker on the offense and the nurses on the receiving end.

On the contrary, appearing on some newspapers are headlines such as “Whidbey General Hospital nurse accused of patient assault” and “Patients’ lives being left at mercy of abusive nurses” and articles that label nurses as ‘Fallen Angels’. Now, this may be alarming to your patients and their relatives, but this must be twice as alarming and perhaps even offensive to you.

Putting Things in Perspective

Nurse abuse in the form of negligence in nursing may be smaller in proportion compared to its situational counterpart. But no matter how few they are in number, negligence in nursing is deeply rooted on factors that are related with the nursing work environment.

The ugly end of this all is patient abuse. To list a few, patient abuse comes in the form of physical abuse, neglect, or humiliation. Be that as it may, patients can never be considered as sole victims in this kind of situation.

A study by Rachel Jewkes and her colleagues that dates back to 1998 has revealed that nurse abuse against patients are caused by a number of sociological reasons in play: struggles in the organizational structure, professional insecurities, the struggle to impose ‘control’, and the perceived inferiority of patients.

However, while you can be considered as a victim of circumstances, it is still your responsibility as a nurse to avoid negligence in nursing and never commit patient abuse.

Getting to the Root

Like any other form of work abuse, nurse abuse can be prevented; although, not so easily. Prevention and eradication needs a full attention from the authorities and hospital administrations.

First, interventions that would change the attitudes and perceptions of nurses who commit patient abuse should be in place. Examples of these will be workshops on negligence in nursing. However, Jewkes’ research suggests that stand-alone workshops will not be effective without streamlining the entire nursing system.

Streamlining the system would of course involve the improvement of the nursing work environment. Improvements on the organizational structure and campaigns towards shifting the perceptions towards the value of nursing professionals can be some of these solutions.

However, it is undeniable that spikes will be thrown at advocates who will push for these reforms because: 1) It can be costly compared to the short-term solutions to negligence in nursing; and 2) It can be deemed as too radical.

Before You Become the Offender

But, do not forget that you also have the power in your hands. Before you even become prone to nurse abuse against patients, you can take actions with regards to maintaining your cool and adapting to the restrictive (at the very least) working environment that you are in.

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