Recently my Medical/Oncology unit has felt more like a psychiatric unit. This past week we have had patients screaming, throwing things at nurses and other people, threatening anyone that comes in the room, being verbally abusive not only to their nurses, but to the people that need to be constantly sitting with them. In the past week I can’t even tell you how many times we have had to call security in order to keep not only the patients safe from themselves, but the staff safe as well from the abuse they might take. Part of our jobs as nurses are to protect our patients, but it becomes a difficult task to protect them from themselves when they try to abuse us.
As nurses we are trained to deal with escalation to an extent, but when there are several of this type of patient on the unit at the same time, it makes it extremely difficult for us as nurses to deliver effective care to all of the patients equally. We do our best, but of course those that are more stable and less acute patients are sometimes left more to their own devices than we as nurses would like. It frustrates us as nurses to no end, and shows how lacking our healthcare system is in dealing with the psychiatric patient. One of the most acutely psych patients was realistically just on our unit awaiting placement. Which means there was no where for him to go because either the places for him to go are completely full, or they are not accepting that type of patient.
Has anyone had to deal with a patient that was just absolutely crazy? How did you deal? Do you have any recommendations or comments to share with us? Good or bad are always welcomed, we can learn from others bad experiences.