Vi­o­lence is not part of the job

Na­tional Nurs­ing Week a plat­form to dis­cuss this very se­ri­ous prob­lem

Cape Breton Post - - Op-Ed - Jane Hazel­ton Guest Shot Janet Hazel­ton is the pres­i­dent of the Nova Sco­tia Nurses’ Union.

Twelve stitches, a tetanus shot, pain med­i­ca­tion and an icepack to keep the swelling and bruis­ing to a min­i­mum.

Sounds like a typ­i­cal day in the emer­gency depart­ment of any Nova Sco­tia hos­pi­tal. The only dif­fer­ence is the pa­tient is a nurse. Not a hockey player, not a slip and fall vic­tim, but a nurse who’s been as­saulted by her pa­tient.

Nurses are among the most likely pro­fes­sion­als to be­come vic­tims of work­place vi­o­lence. Each year on av­er­age, about 1,000 Cana­dian nurses are hurt se­verely enough to miss work. That’s more than po­lice and fire­fight­ers com­bined.

The Nova Sco­tia Nurses’ Union (NSNU) is shar­ing this be­cause be­ing kicked, punched, spit on or pinched is a daily event for nurses in Nova Sco­tia, and it needs to stop.

Sadly, the sta­tis­tics are likely far worse as nurses sel­dom re­port in­ci­dents of abuse. There is a pre­vail­ing sen­ti­ment among nurses that vi­o­lence, out­bursts, phys­i­cal and ver­bal ha­rass­ment are just part of the job. It’s a no­tion that the NSNU and our pro­vin­cial coun­ter­parts have been work­ing for decades to dis­pel.

Across Canada nurse unions have been work­ing to make tan­gi­ble changes in acute, long-term and com­mu­nity care to pro­tect nurses. To that end, I’m in­volved in com­mit­tee work to im­prove con­di­tions in com­mu­nity emer­gency de­part­ments, as well as in long-term care, where the rates of vi­o­lence are sig­nif­i­cantly higher. Progress has been made within these com­mit­tees, but it’s not enough. Em­ploy­ers, work­ers, and the pub­lic must work to­gether to en­sure safer work en­vi­ron­ments.

It’s up to all Nova Sco­tians to be com­pas­sion­ate and un­der­stand­ing when we en­ter health fa­cil­i­ties. We must en­sure that those who are pro­vid­ing care for our loved ones are able to do it safely and with­out the fear of vi­o­lence.

The NSNU is us­ing Na­tional Nurs­ing Week as a plat­form to talk about this very se­ri­ous prob­lem.

“Each year on av­er­age, about 1,000 Cana­dian nurses are hurt se­verely enough to miss work.”

This Na­tional Nurs­ing Week, May 8-14, let’s work to­gether to make health fa­cil­i­ties safer for those who pro­vide care. Let’s be vig­i­lant. Let’s end vi­o­lence in the work­place.

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