Policy Perspectives| Volume 34, ISSUE 6, P584-585, December 2008

Prevention of Assault and Battery Against Health Care Workers in a New Mexico Emergency Department

Published:September 09, 2008DOI:
      You see security running through your emergency department, hear screaming and staff members talking, and are wondering what has happened now. You later find out that one of your fellow staff members was attacked and beaten by a patient. Legal charges are filed against the patient for assault, but the charges are dropped and the patient is set free. A patient’s family member attacks another staff member. A registered nurse is sprayed with mace after caring for a small child. Later the assailant is found to have a pair of scissors in her possession, which she intended to use as well. Again, charges are filed for assault against the assailant, and the assailant is set free. Because no law enforcement officers witnessed the assaults, the charges were either dropped or the assailants paid minimal fines.
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      Kathy Lopez-Bushnell is Clinical Nurse Researcher, University of New Mexico Hospitals, Albuquerque, NM.


      Jodie Martinez is Follow Up Nurse, Emergency Department, University of New Mexico Hospitals, Albuquerque, NM.