De-escalation techniques for fraught patients. Most nurses have experienced aggression and abuse from their patients, and workplace violence is a major issue in most hospitals. Nurses are often the face of the medical care that the patient is receiving and, as a result, nurses tend to be on the receiving end of the worst abuse and violence from patients.
It has only been in the course of the last few years that hospitals have begun to take this aggression and violence more seriously. Many hospitals, clinics and health care organizations are now looking to take steps to minimize the abuse that nurses receive from patients and also introduce de-escalation training into the regular intake process for healthcare workers.
Take a moment to assess the situation
Before you implement de-escalation techniques, take a moment to assess the situation and try to determine if the patient you are working with is becoming aggressive or agitated. This behavior might be expressed through verbal threats and a raised voice, or it could be physically expressed through pacing, confusion, or signs of anxiety. You should try to recognize these signs regardless of the age, gender, and size of your patient and take steps to protect yourself.
Listen to what your patient is saying
Hospitals can be intimidating places, and many patients who otherwise would not lash out become aggressive in medical environments. The patients may also feel that doctors and nurses are making potentially life-changing decisions without their consent, causing them to feel anxious and powerless. When a patient is beginning to act in an aggressive or agitated way, actively listen to what they are saying, including their concerns, fears, and what is making them anxious.
By listening actively, you will be able to calm your patient, build a rapport, and find out exactly what has caused the issue, which will help you to take steps to solve the issue. If you let the patient know that you are listening to them, that you understand their perspective, and that you will take steps to ameliorate the issue, the patient is likely to feel much more secure, empowered and comforted.
Establish boundaries – and stick to them
It is equally important to establish firm boundaries with the agitated patient. Patients who are upset may try to make you do something that you are not able to do, or do not have the time to do. When you are responding to these requests, you should try to comfort them, while remaining non-committal and not promising anything. You can do this by saying that you will check with the doctor first before doing something, or tell them: “I will do my best to make that happen, but I cannot guarantee you anything.”
Additional steps available
Another option available to nurses is to specialize further with an additional qualification such asthe Psychiatric/Mental Health Nurse Practitioner course at Wilkes University. Mental health nursing is one of the fields of nursing that does involve a lot of work with individuals who are agitated, anxious and upset.
If you are interested in working in mental health nursing, a course such asthe one offered at Wilkes University, which offers training in both clinical and academic environments, is a great way to prepare for a career in the sector.