This is in response to a brief story, “Patient bites nurse at Portland hospital” (Sun Journal, Nov. 4).
Violence toward nurses in the emergency department does not hold enough public awareness in relation to its prevalence. In a 2010 national survey of emergency nurses, 85 percent of participants reported being verbally assaulted by patients and 31 percent experienced a physical assault. A dramatic 40 percent of those assaults were reported during evening shifts.
Fortunately for Maine hospital workers, the state has decreased workplace violence by enforcing laws requiring hospitals to adopt safety and security plans protecting employees from violent or aggressive behaviors.
Referring to the increase in assaults during evening work shifts, I am left to correlate the timing with an increase in patients abusing drugs or alcohol at those hours. Although it was not reported in the news article, alcohol intoxication, as well as drug use, are two factors correlating with physical assault documents.
Assaulting an individual providing medical care violates LD 369, which classifies conviction as a Class C felony.
As a nursing student, I wonder, at what point did it become acceptable to assault a health care worker?
Being part of the Lewiston-Auburn community, I write this to emphasize the implication for increased education and safety awareness. The community should consider re-evaluating the policies created to prevent violence toward nurses in Maine and across the country.
Kimberly Tremblay, Turner