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When a patient becomes violent

I went to my orthopedic surgeon’s office for my postoperative visit. Autumn Sides was the nurse who attended me that day. She told me she would be careful while removing my stitches and hoped it wouldn’t hurt too much. Jokingly I said, “If you do, I’ll try not to hit you too hard.” She laughed and said, “It would not be the first time I’ve been hit by a patient during my 30 years as a nurse.” My first thought was — aha, here’s another story.

I told her about my column in the paper and I asked her to elaborate on being hit by patients. She began telling me about a young woman who was brought in after an attempted suicide. The woman appeared to be very sweet, but then out of nowhere she drew her legs up and thrust them into Autumn’s stomach. The thrust was so strong and unexpected that Autumn was not prepared for it, and it hurled her across the room. She fell backward over a chair and landed in the floor on her tailbone. She immediately called for security. It took three guards to restrain the patient so she couldn’t use her hands or inflict any more damage.

Autumn spent the rest of the day in Employee Health, being assessed for injuries and filling out paperwork, because the hospital takes it very seriously when an employee is hurt on the job.

Nurses go through a lot while assessing and treating patients and this showed me a side of their job that I had not given any thought to — the violent patients. Not only do nurses give out TLC, comfort and medications as indicated, they place themselves in a situation that could become dangerous. For Autumn, fortunately, she has not been injured seriously by a patient.

Paulette Ballard collects interesting, funny and unusual stories from people in and around Lincolnton. If you have a story you would like to submit for her column, e-mail it to pballardnc1029@yahoo.com. In the subject line type “For your column.” Include your name and phone number for her to contact you.

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