I recall a moment while working in Las Vegas a couple of years back. I won’t mention specifics, but someone I am close to was being verbally berated by a patient nonstop. After some time, the hospital administrators came down and literally asked the patient to pack his bags and get ready to leave the hospital. They made it clear to him that his behavior towards the staff was not acceptable and would not be tolerated. They preceded to get security to escort him out. This was a great thing for me to hear.
I remember seeing signs at that very same hospital stating that physically assaulting a healthcare worker could result in 10 years of imprisonment. Sounds pretty reasonable, right? I mean, why wouldn’t a person go to jail for striking a healthcare worker? If I were on the street and assaulted somebody, I would be arrested. Heck, even if I threatened somebody, I would be arrested. That being said, a person should also be arrested if they assault a healthcare worker. It just makes sense.
So, why then, do I constantly hear stories of patients around the country physically abusing healthcare workers and getting away with it. I have even witnessed this with my own eyes. Healthcare workers are assaulted many times, and the perpetrator basically gets away with it. At most, they may get escorted out of the hospital. However, they will be allowed to return back in many cases. I recall an instance at a hospital where a patient took a swing at a male nurse. This patient had a long history of violence. He was escorted out of the hospital. Was he put into a police car and taken away? Did he have assault charges placed against him? The answer to both questions is no. He actually came back a couple of days later like nothing happened.
While I understand hospitals cannot refuse patients in emergency situations, is it reasonable to expect healthcare workers to just be assaulted on the job with no repercussions for the patient? Absolutely not! However, this is a reality in so many parts of the country. Some laws in certain states are just more strict than others. That being said, I cannot think of a single place in this country where I would get away with assaulting somebody on the street. But if I’m working at the hospital and get attacked, there’s a major chance the aggressor will simply walk away, maybe with a slap on the wrist. Is this fair? I don’t think so.
Is this a case of healthcare workers being treated like they are expendable, or are the laws in many states simply not on a healthcare facilities side? I would really like to know why in some areas of the country hospitals would not even tolerate a person raising their voices in anger towards a healthcare worker, while in other places, they get away with something as brutal as assault? What’s worse, sometimes the healthcare workers will get in trouble, even though they did nothing wrong. And if they legitimately try to defend themselves, then they are really going to be in a world of pain. Assault is illegal, and it should be in a hospital too, across the board.
Healthcare workers genuinely want to help their patients. They have plenty to deal with without the fear of getting assaulted. Please remember this the next time you are in a hospital or healthcare facility.