Patient Safety is Paramount

As the governing body I work under outlines ‘I have a duty of care to all of my patients’.

nmc logo

Please click on the above image for a link to the NMC Code of Conduct for Nurses & Midwives

This duty of care extends to keeping them from harm and providing the best care I can. On my first night shift out of three I was assaulted with a walking frame and reported it via the correct (incident reporting) channels and after the incident I refused to be abused by said patient. The nurse in charge at the time took over the patients care however the patient continued to be verbally and physically abusive towards all members of staff that tried to help. Security were called and the site manager made sure that there would be a permanent member of security on the ward at all times.

Now before I go on I hope you will understand that at work I am a very patient person when it comes to my patients and always give them the benefit of the doubt. However over the past couple of years I have been able to recognize the ones who for want of a better phrase ‘faking it to make it’ and those who could be easily mistaken as Satan’s helpers! This patient was a mix of both ends of the spectrum of awfulness.

Rude, obnoxious, cantankerous and scathingly violent.

Now from experience I know that the ward sisters tend to jump to the patients defense and not support the staff so I find myself asking myself two questions.

Why did I qualify as a nurse? I have dealt with many difficult patients and in previous jobs just difficult people in general but I have NEVER been put in the position where I am open to physical abuse and unable to defend myself. The feeling of helplessness is overwhelming and very disconcerting. In answer to the question however – I became a nurse so I could care for those who have nobody to care for them, to advocate and speak for those who have either lost their voice or have never had one. I became a nurse to provide basic human needs to those that need the love, care and attention that they cannot provide for themselves. I became a nurse because I genuinely do care. If I ever lost my desire to care and provide for those who cannot then I would stop being a nurse as I think it is unacceptable for those who just do it out of habit and do not WANT to do it anymore. I say this because there are days where I think why? But then even on those days there are certain patients who make you remember why it was you started and finished your training and took up the career of a nurse in the first place. I love my job and I will not be forced in any way to think of it as anything other than wonderful and a privilege to have people let me into their lives and personal space to look after them in what some may see as the most intimate ways possible. I will never abuse my position and take it very seriously that my patients get the care they deserve.

My second question is: If I am not safe how can I make sure the rest of my patients are safe? This worries me increasingly and makes me constantly wary when coming to work. I know that it is not just my workplace and I most definitely know that it may be a case of the grass is always greener. I feel that I am constantly putting my pin number (livelihood) at risk by working on this understaffed and badly managed ward and am sick of the excuses that things are changing slowly but surely. It is sad to be in this position however no matter what the management do or don’t do I choose to continue providing the best possible care I can in such an environment to my patients.

Sad times when patients are allowed to abuse the staff that are there to care for them and there are those that are missing out on essential care as nurses are tied up looking after patients that are medically fit but have an attitude problem. 

Yes nursing is a vocation and I chose to be a nurse however that does not give a patient the right to verbally, mentally and physically abuse a nurse until they start to question their career choice entirely.


2 thoughts on “Patient Safety is Paramount

  1. I feel the same way.

    I try to give my patients the care, attention and kindness I would want my mother or grandparents to receive. It is increasingly difficult with staffing levels, complexity of patient care, paperwork, meeting targets, etc. to do my job well.

    In addition over the years I have seen the number of patients that have become verbal and physically abusive to staff increase dramatically. I have got to the point where I feel that I nobody has the right to make me feel threatened or unsafe at work.

    It is a vocation, but at the same time the NHS should do more to support it’s staff. In our local trust there is a zero tolerance policy, yet all they can do is sending a letter saying that they might withdraw future treatment. However, really if a patient turns up they’ll never refuse to treat them no matter how verbally or physically abusive due to a duty of care.

    I would like to see the NMC, Royal College of Nursing, Department of Health and local NHS trusts – really implement a zero trust policy and support their Nurses better. Both in supporting Nurses (and other health professionals) who are at risk of verbal and physical abuse as well as those that experience it at work.

    A x


    • Thank you so much for such a thought provoking reply. I too believe that we deserve more support and being in a trust that broadcasts their ABSOLUTE Zero Tolerance on abuse and violence a lot of it happens and goes un-noticed. Sadly I think the culture of nursing has now become one where we just shut up and put up. I will never just take abuse especially at work where I go to help people and I will not stand by and watch others getting abused. The problem is with little things like management being poor where do us lowely nurses go to for support and ACTION?!

      Thanks again and don’t be a stranger!



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