What is a battery in nursing?
In nursing, the battery is defined as the willful and unwanted touching of another person in a rude or angry manner. In other words, it is physical abuse. Physical abuse can be anything from hitting someone to self-mutilation. There are many forms of physical abuse that a nurse may see on a regular basis.
What are some examples of battery in nursing?
Nurses may experience battery from patients who become combative with them, or other times nurses are injured by patients because they were not adequately restrained during an episode of delirium. An example might be if a nurse enters the room to check the vital signs of a patient and is struck by that patient.
While it might be difficult to prove intent for violence between family members at home, it is easier to prove intent with violence between patients and nurses. Assaulting a nurse is considered a felony, and violence against nurses has been increasing over the past 8 years.
According to their website, The International Association of Forensic Nurses defines battery in nursing as “hitting, punching, slapping, pinching or kicking of another person without his/her consent.” In addition to physical abuse from patients, nurses also may suffer from verbal abuse. This might take the form of cursing or threatening remarks about any part of a nurse’s body or his/her family members.
Another example might be if a group of visitors was yelling at the front desk towards an ER nurse because they didn’t understand why it was taking so long for their family member to be seen by a doctor. In this case, the nurse might be experiencing verbal abuse.
How common is a battery in nursing?
The battery in nursing is very common. Many nurses will experience at least one act of physical abuse during the course of their career. One study showed that over half (57%) of all critical care nurses had been physically assaulted by a patient or family member during the course of their career. The mean number of times this has occurred was more than once (1.39 times).
About 1 out of 10 (9%) reported having been sexually assaulted, and about 15% reported having experienced physical injuries because of assault by patients or families members. Has the battery in nursing always existed? No, the battery in nursing has not always existed.
There was a time when patients were much more respectful towards nurses, but it seems like there is much more violence now. Why does the battery in nursing exist? Many people believe that the lack of respect seen from patients towards nurses is a result of nurses being undervalued and not appreciated.
In other words, since society as a whole does not value the work that nurses do, that lack of respect by others spreads to those they come into contact with. Also, society as a whole has become more violent over the years, which contributes to the violence shown towards nurses because it is not seen as wrong or uncommon for someone to be violent towards another person.
Possible nursing implications: What to do when this occurs as a nurse?
The nurse should immediately report the incident to his/her supervisor so they can file a report and take action against the patient. The supervisor may also want to consider changing the patient’s status from “admitted” to “triage,” which would change where he/she is staying in the emergency department based on his/her behavior.
However, if this were not an option, then it would be up to security or law enforcement to respond and deal with the situation further. Depending on what state you’re working in, you might even have a legal right to press charges for battery in nursing against your assailant!
A nurse who feels threatened should always be aware of his/her surroundings, know where the nearest panic button is, and remember that he/she always has the right to file a report against someone who is violent towards him/her.
Can nurses get in trouble for battery in nursing?
Yes, they absolutely can! If a nurse were to strike another person or use force against him/her that was beyond what was needed to restrain the patient during an emergency, then he/she could definitely face criminal charges for battery in nursing. Even if no one presses charges on the nurse, there are always legal implications around a battery of any sort towards someone else.
Every state has different laws about how much force you can legally use when restraining someone and where your responsibility ends once law enforcement becomes involved with the situation. There is also some debate about whether some cases of restraint may be considered torture.
What can happen to nurses who commit battery in nursing?
If a nurse is convicted of battery in nursing, it will stay on his/her record forever. Many hospitals and clinics do background checks on nurses to make sure they are qualified for the job. The battery in nursing charges would show up during any sort of legal search done on an individual’s name.
In most states, the charge itself is considered a misdemeanor, which means that it will be seen as a criminal offense even if no one presses charges or sues you for damages from a personal injury case related to the battery of another person. It can also affect your ability to get hired at certain places of employment because they don’t want people with violence-related offenses on their staff.
Even though some positions might have more use for nurses who have committed battery in nursing, it is still illegal to commit this crime.
Nursing can be a dangerous career because you are exposing yourself to many different types of people every day. That being said, it’s important that nurses have an understanding of their rights when it comes to battery in nursing.
It is also important for nurses to speak up about being treated less than respectfully if they know that the way someone is treating them is wrong. Nurses who want to take legal action should contact their state’s Nursing Board for advice as well as contacting a lawyer.