Drug-Related Assaults in the ER Increasing

Drug-Related Assaults in the ER Increasing

Individuals who enter the emergency room under the influence of drugs or alcohol may not behave according to normal health care protocol. Nurses attending to these individuals know this firsthand as they often get the brunt of abuse from such individuals if an encounter turns violent.

A recent Associated Press report highlighted that some nurses fear the abuse may get worse if budget crunches result in a reduction of treatment programs. Such programs help those with substance abuse problems, as well as individuals who are dealing with psychotic issues.

For one emergency room nurse, fighting to remove a psychotic patient’s jaws from the hand of a doctor resulted in bruises, scratches and a chipped tooth. In another incident, she was groped by a drunken patient after she helped him into his hospital gown.

As the number of patients coming to emergency rooms with a drug addiction, alcohol problem or psychiatric issues increases, the violence against nurses and other medical professionals is also intensifying.

In fact, visits to the ER by individuals as a result of drug- or alcohol-related incidents reached 2 million in 2008, up from 1.6 million in 2005, according to statistics from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. The number of visits that resulted in violence rose to 21,406 in 2008 from 16,277 in 2006.

Those in the medical field claim the problem is only getting worse due to the downturn in the economy. Fewer jobs available impacts the people, leading them to substances they would normally avoid. At the same time, states are closing hospitals, cutting mental health jobs and eliminating addiction programs.
 

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