Hospitals Experiencing Soaring Violence — From Staff as Often as From Patients?

Rob Wipond
11
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An “epidemic of violence against health care workers plagues hospitals” as “hospital administrations and the judicial system do little to prevent assaults against nurses and other caregivers by patients,” reported Scientific American. Conversely, the same day, The Guardian reported “a hidden outbreak,” as sexual violence by UK hospital staff against psychiatric patients “soars.”

“In a 2014 survey, almost 80 percent of nurses reported being attacked on the job within the past year,” reported Scientific American. “Health-care workers experience the most nonfatal workplace violence compared to other professions by a wide margin, with attacks on them accounting for almost 70 percent of all nonfatal workplace assaults causing days away from work in the U.S., according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.”

The article linked the assaults to “people experiencing psychosis or other mental crises” and people with dementia. However, Scientific American commented that much of the violence was “less explainable”; for example, one survey showed “almost 50 percent came from patients and family members who were drunk or on drugs.”

The Guardian, meanwhile, obtained records through the Freedom of Information Act that “show a 50% rise in reports of sexual violence [against patients] in hospitals since 2011. It includes a total of at least 157 rape allegations.” The information obtained also showed another 1,615 violent sexual attacks against patients. “But prosecutors have said that up to 90% of sexual abuse goes unreported, suggesting the true figure could be much higher,” reported The Guardian.

“Most police forces were unable to provide a firm breakdown of the types of hospitals where rapes and sexual abuse had been reported,” stated The Guardian. “However, the Met, which accounted for 20% of all reports, said the issue was a particular problem in mental health units, with a significant proportion of alleged victims identified as vulnerable due to mental health problems.”

All of the cases described by The Guardian involved hospital staff attacking psychiatric patients.

“In another case, a mental health patient described psychiatric hospitals as a ‘playground for predators’, after she was raped up to 60 times by a member of staff,” reported The Guardian. “The woman had been taken to Little Brook hospital in Kent after a breakdown and was warned she would be sectioned if she tried to leave. She described her ordeal to the BBC earlier this year. ‘At times I was on a very heavy amount of Valium, not to where I was unconscious, but the sedative combined with my already defeated self, I was like putty. He would pull the covers back, do what he had to do and leave, all very quickly. I didn’t move.'”

Epidemic of Violence against Health Care Workers Plagues Hospitals (Scientific American, December 31, 2014)

Sexual violence soars in UK hospitals (The Guardian, December 31, 2014)

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11 COMMENTS

  1. Here is an example of staff assaulting patients :http://www.naplesnews.com/news/crime/employee-charged-having-sex-mental-patients

    The facility mentioned is a for-profit psychiatric hospital where the clientele are typically medicaid and medicare types. In order to profit from these low rates of compensation the facility has to keep its costs low. It would be interesting to note if this sort of predation is more common in the for-profit environment.

    • This is the arrest warrant of one of the doctors who “assaulted” me, V R Kuchipudi, in addition to many other patients:

      http://www.justice.gov/usao/iln/pr/chicago/2013/pr0416_01a.pdf

      The hospital he was arrested at, Sacred Heart, was a for profit hospital. But the hospital I personally was medically unnecessarily shipped to him and “snowed” at, Advocate Good Samaritan hospital, is an ELCA Lutheran Church owned not-for-profit hospital. I was initially drugged to cover up the sexual abuse of one of my children, based upon medically documented lies from an ELCA pastor.

      Kuchipudi’s psychiatric partner in crimes at Advocate Good Samaritan, Dr. Humaira Saiyed, also worked through this hospital:

      http://abc7chicago.com/archive/6270346/

      A hospital so notorious for allowing children to be sexually assaulted, that DCFS actually stopped sending children there. I wonder how long it will take for us, as a society, to realize that doctors are not capable of ethically supervising their own hospitals, so really, revering them is unwise.

  2. “epidemic of violence against health care workers plagues hospitals”
    Oh, poor them, I’m so sorry. No “mental healthcare professional” has any right to wine about being an object of aggression if he/she is engaging in psychiatric torture. That is self-defence of oppressed people. I have zero sympathy for guys who use restrains, forced drugging and other despicable practices – you deserve to be treated badly by your “patients”.

    • B: A while back the chief psychiatrist of a forensic mental hospital in Napa Valley appeared on CSPAN TV in order to speak out against the rash of on-going violence there. His presentation was wrought with contradiction. At some points, he was trying to make the case that he was advocating for the safety of his patients from the violence practiced at the hands of fellow patients. At another juncture, he made it abundantly clear that he could not trust any of the patients as far as he could throw them. And then he threw in the Christ Complex for good measure by asking rhetorically where else but a mental hospital would Christ do his work? Also, today on Book Tv there is a presentation by a psychiatrist at Johns Hopkins at 10:45 AM.

      • Oh, they’d be first to throw Jesus into a locked ward and inject him with their torture drugs. I think I know at least 10 diagnosis he’d be stuck with.
        All the violence I’ve seen was either perpetrated or provoked by staff. They should stop whining that they are “victims” of violence – in my mind they are not getting 1% of what they deserve.

  3. I’ve been in two hospital wards; voluntarily in a V.A. ward, and involuntarily in a private hospital ward. The V.A. staff respected the patients’ rights not to take drugs. The private hospital did not. The V.A. staff did not treat people like children— they have mostly big male war veterans in their wards— bullies don’t pick on them. The private hospital ward’s staff treated patients like children, if not babies. Responsible adults don’t treat children who can walk, talk, and dress themselves like that. The V.A. staff was calm, cool, and collected— they listened. The private hospital staff seemed to be totally lacking in self-awareness, especially in regard to their own affect and actively disregarded and rejected what patients said out of hand. Amy mention of actual experience was due to “agnosia”.

    Riiiight.

    In the private ward I was met with naked expressions of smug disgust from a psychiatrist, and condescending smiles from nurses, for asserting that my experience had something to do with why I was there. It’s bad enough to be treated like a lesser being because one is extreme distress, it’s surreal to be treated like a completely decontextualized object.

    They kept me for two weeks because I did not agree with their assessment, nor their treatment, and because I slapped medication out of a psychiatrist’s hand while I was in extreme distress. I knew perfectly well why was I was there. And had that admitting doctor left me alone while I was coming to grips with my one and only ever psychotic episode (at the age of 51) that was, at most, a two hour waking night terror (brief reactive psychosis) accompanied by feelings of the impending extinction of the human race, that was a MEMORY— had she not sat in front of me and asked me questions that had nothing to do with that, and kept trying to give me meds that I had told her I didn’t want, I wouldn’t have slapped the medication out of her hand in self-defense

    I wanted to be clearer, not separated from my experience chemically— it was second only to the traumatic event itself in significance to me, and was very informative. I was coming out of it, and examining it; but they kept focusing on their issues— like the nurse walking around talking real loud about how I was high on meth (never touched the stuff) who also told me that I didn’t have multiple sclerosis. The admitting doctor (if she was a doctor or a psychiatrist (I was busy with more pressing matters than her rank)) decided that I had a service-connected disability (my friend gave her my veteran’s I.D. that stated this), but decided it was not from what I said it was.

    Her delusions and pushiness were harshing my recovery, and I really didn’t need to be so drugged that I couldn’t remember the following two days.

    In isolation (Oh, that it would have been isolation!), I had taken my mattress off of that thing that reminded me of something in a coroner’s office and put it on the floor in the back corner facing the door. Apparently, they didn’t recognize hyper-vigilance, and they sure as hell responded (reacted) to me in ways most inappropriate to someone in that state. Don’t poke the frightened and hyper-vigilant monkey. Don’t ask them their birth date and trivial personal history questions as if those were relevant or appropriate. Duh!

    Yeah, I slapped the meds out of the woman’s hands the third time she tried to push them on me, because every interaction she had with me was insulting and degrading, and dehumanizing and all about HER and her control issues and her delusions of knowing me and my experience and what I needed in that moment.

    Also, on the ward, I witnesses many occasions in which the staff members were emoting their butts off in most reactionary and unnecessary ways. One reminded me of that scene in The Wizard of Oz where the witch promises destruction then jumps on her broom and flies out the window. That reaction was over me opening the laundry room door for a new patient. There was zero signage on the ward explaining anything like the rules— just a lot of NAMI posters that posthumously diagnosed great people in history with mental illnesses— especially artists, because being an artist or engaging in artistic activities is bipolar, right? So is being President of the United States in the darkest time to date— anyone with deep emotion is mentally ill, no matter what is going on in the world around them.

    My God, a nurse started shouting, “HE’S RESISTING!”, because no matter how loud she spoke, that gentle Mexican man trying to make himself smaller so she’d stop being afraid of him, could not understand English.

    If I ever need to take a vacation in a psyche ward again, I’ll go to the V.A. hospital; but right now, my priority is to scrub my soul of this pseudoscience and it’s classist, misogynist, and racist presumptions.

    Every day, in every way, I’m moving closer and closer to a position that this field should be abolished if that’s what it takes to remove their unearned power to define and confine individuals and take control of the course of their lives.

    • When they admitted me against my will and when I ended up restrained and drugged to unconsciousness in a cage type of bed (they use these ones still in some countries though UN has told them repeatedly to stop) it was not for being violent (I didn’t touch anyone, in fact I only told them not to touch me – the most often heard scream in these wards – I wonder who may be an aggressor there). It didn’t matter because the so-called doctor “didn’t have time” for me (she actually said that) and ordered me to be psychiatrically raped for her own convenience. They put in my documents that I was a danger to self and others.
      Later on I was supposedly throwing chairs at them. If that is really true (no way to know since I know for a fact they lie in writing and I don’t remember what was going on since I was completely drugged with benzos and a number of other pills and had almost complete anterograde amnesia) I’m f***ing proud of myself. If they ever try to do that same thing to me or anyone in my presence I’m going to be violent since I won’t allow human rights abusers and torturers to just continue with their deeds.
      Any psychiatrist/nurse whoever who engages in psychiatric torture has no right to complain about any form of violence that his/her victim exerts against him or her. It is self defence and it is as justified as hurting a rapist or a murderer.

      • Attributing what someone did while under the influence of drugs as evidence of their “danger” betrays a complete lack of personal responsibility and cause and effect curiosity.

        Dogma be dogma, and the abuse goes on. What I saw in that private ward was people living in a little propaganda bubble that made them very boldly irrational and that put them on their own little pedestal from which to look down on people. They have no idea how inappropriately imposing and irrelevant their a priori conclusions are, and how obvious their imperiousness and blinders are to people they deem insane.

        Don’t even get me started on agnosia, unless you’re talking about a particular lack of awareness on their part. Thou shall not vary from the script they wrote for you in med school.

    • WileyWitch: I admire your compunction in standing up to abusive authority: I chose flight rather than flight. As I broke the window at the “mental hospital” where I a was being confined I then bounced off the second later of plexiglass into a choke hold of an orderly, I was summarily dragged off to an isolation room where I was strapped to a bed. then the “nurse” came offering he Thorazine which I declined. ” Have it your way” she said, as she administered the drug with a needle. In isolation, no time frame was given for the duration or the restraints not to mention the protocol for the administration of “the medication.” (I believe this meets the definition of torture). I was left to urinate and deficate on myself. During the remainder of my incarceration, the nurse and the attending psychiatrist purposely avoided eye contact with me. Some days later, an unidentified staff member approached me to explain that the scattered glass on the floor was a danger to the suicidal patients on the floor. I felt bad. But on further reflection, how does that medically relate to all the steps taken against me. It seems to me that the process, was nothing more than attempted soul murder. It was only later that I discovered that there was a psychiatric term directed at runaway slaves (Anogosia sic). Yes indeed, who in their right mind would flee the benevolence the slave master or the psychiatric system.