Morning Brew is read by more than 3 million people; you should too! Laura Yeager had experienced multiple incidents of being bit, kicked, slapped, and spat on during her five years working as a mental nurse in Missouri. Yeager claimed that a young patient had once choked her. Another time she was trying to control a patient when they kicked her in the head.
Yeager claimed that despite the abuse she experienced, she had compassion for her young, defenseless victims. She realized that their outbursts were a result of anger at not being able to express their demands.
“You must realize that a behavioral health unit “runs on chaos” when working there, Yeager told Insider. That’s just how it is, in a way.”
She did, however, reach her breaking point in 2021. She struggled mightily to restrain a combative patient when she felt an uncomfortable twist in her back. She was in so much pain that she was unable to endure it any longer. Yeager realized she would have to leave the work she loves so much during the following few months.
It is not unusual for nurses to sustain injuries as a result of aggression at work. According to federal data, nurses receive injured ratings at a rate higher than that of all other professions, and hospitals are among the most dangerous places to work .
But according to union leaders, mistreatment against nurses has been worse since the pandemic began. Nurses are now quitting in droves , which causes staffing shortages that increase the demand on the remaining competent nurses.
Yeager claims that although she was trying to contribute in “an already overburdened section of the medical profession,” it has now become intolerable for her and many others.
“Because they require it, I am a fervent supporter of the behavioral health population. I’m upset that I was hurt and that I can’t do it “said Yeager. It’s a formula for catastrophe that more people are getting hurt and more professionals are abandoning the behavioral health bedside.
YEAGER SAID THAT IT IS NOT REALLY POSSIBLE TO PREVENT VIOLENCE AT WORK. A third of US hospital nurses reported an increase in workplace violence in October 2021, according to the largest nursing union in the nation. When they conducted the study again just six months later, the result increased dramatically to 48%, or nearly half of hospital nurses nationwide.
Yeager claims that as a result of her years of experience and aptitude for working with the most difficult patients, she has gradually come across instances that are increasingly complex.
With her patients, she adopted a firm yet compassionate approach, determining which ones would respond better to verbal deescalation or “responsible restraint.”
Yeager claimed that as one of the unit’s older physicians in her forties, she started to worry more about the physical demands of working with challenging patients.
I’m definitely one of the older nurses here, and I get the worst patient assignments because of my background in behavioral health, Yeager said. And sure enough, three hours later, I was hurt.
YEAGER WAS UNABLE TO AVOID PHYSICAL WORK DUE TO UNDER-STAFFING, SHE SAID. Yeager was unable to work for three months following her accident. No of how well she did in physical therapy, according to her doctors, she should be given less physically demanding employment when she returned from her medical vacation.
That was almost difficult due to understaffing. Yeager spent months looking for remote desk jobs, but she kept getting put in charge of patients who had serious psychological problems and were more prone to act violently.
The nurse admitted that she would resort to using painkillers and withdrawing herself from demanding situations in order “to get through the day.” “I think I hurt my body more in the end.”
WORSENING MENTAL HEALTH WILL LEAD TO MORE NURSE INJURIES WITHOUT INTERVENTION, YEAGER QUOTED According to National Nurses United president Jean Ross, the spike in workplace violence against nurses is directly related to a lack of staff. Patients may become more agitated during longer wait times, and a lack of staff means fewer individuals are available to defuse tense situations.
The union has pushed for legislation requiring healthcare facilities to keep an adequate number of nurses on staff. According to Ross, the bill was approved by the House last year and is awaiting Senate action.
Yeager thinks that the enormous death and seclusion that occurred during the epidemic had “definitely” exacerbated the mental health crisis in the US based on what she observed in the psychiatric unit. She claimed that the likelihood of violence against nurses has increased as behavioral health patients have grown angrier and more frustrated.
Despite the fact that Yeager is unable to offer a remedy, she believes that without more funding for nurse staffing and psychiatric health, patients and professionals would suffer.