Patient & Staff at Risk

Nurses often receive patients who need medical care but at the same time are a risk for injury to themselves or others.

These patients we make them 1:1, meaning they have a sitter with them at all times. The problem with this is that facilities are placing anyone to watch patients and are not considering how big of a risk the patient truly is.

I received a 35 year old male patient around 6’2″ at 230 lbs. He was on isolation to rule out tuberculosis but had a history of psychiatric problems. The sitter who was assigned to watch him through a glass window was a 60 year old woman. How long do you think she will stand there and watch him? And if anything was to happen, what can she do?

Well, my patient started getting anxious and paranoid. He forgot where he was and started destroying the room. The sitter had no idea that he was having an anxiety attack because she was busy chatting in the hallway with another nurse. She never heard the noise coming out of the room until it was too late.

Forgetting he was on isolation, she rushed in without putting a mask on startling him. After throwing her against the wall, he punched her in the chest and she fell to the ground. That was the end of her. The nurse near by rushed to the phone and called a CODE GRAY. The patient ran out of the room and down the hallway. He was a train charging full speed at the nursing station and it took the entire floor and the psychiatric code team to hold him down and medicate him. The sitter was taken to the ER where she suffered multiple broken ribs. Once the patient was sedated and restrained, they sent another sitter, a young girl about 23 years old and 115 lbs soaking wet! Again the facility was oblivious to the PATIENT & STAFF AT RISK. 

This is happening on a daily basis and we must put an end to it. I did not become a nurse to stand on the sidelines and watch patients and staff including myself being put in harms way. Psychiatric patients need professionally trained sitters who are able to handle these types of patients – not an elderly woman or a young girl.

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