An unprovoked, possibly meth-related assault on a nurse at Winnipeg’s Grace Hospital Friday night is far from an isolated incident, says the nurses’ union.
The Manitoba Nurses Union told 680CJOB that a nurse was punched in the face Friday, and they believe the man who punched her was high on methamphetamine.
According to statistics from the union, the number of patients high on meth admitted to emergency rooms has increased by 1,200 per cent since 2013, which they say has resulted in a dangerous working environment for people in the medical field.
“What they’re seeing is patients that are coming in high on methamphetamine, they may be in a meth-induced psychosis, which means they are generally quite paranoid and have very high anxiety levels,” union president Darlene Jackson said.
“They’re also very erratic, with unexpected behaviour. They can become very aggressive, which means you can’t really anticipate the type of behaviours they’re going to display.
“It’s often unprovoked, it is sudden, and we’ve been saying for a long time that we need security in those emergency rooms that have peace officer status that can restrain and detain. What we’re seeing is if there is security, they do not have peace officer status and are unable to be hands-on with the patient.”
Jackson said in many hospitals, a nurse fills out a form called an RL6 whenever there’s a violent incident. The form documents what happened, who was involved, and what the outcome was. Across the province, she said, the number of incident reports filed has increased dramatically.
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Winnipeg police say they have seen the number of people using meth and other drugs rise in crimes across the city.
“Hospitals are going to see an increase in violence,” Const. Tammy Skrabek said.
“This is a much larger issue. I think all together on all the different scales we all have a part to play in attempting to control it, from a police angle we need to find the people who are dealing it, we need to reduce the amount of drugs that are out there.”
At Health Sciences Centre, the number of RL6 forms received in 2018 has already doubled the numbers from all of 2017. At the Grace Hospital, the union’s statistics report that the number of ‘code white’ reports of violence has increased considerably as well, with violent reports sometimes taking place multiple times per day.
Medical staff in Winnipeg aren’t alone when it comes to this problem. At Brandon Regional Hospital, the number of incident reports is on pace for an increase over last year as well.
The Winnipeg Regional Health Authority (WRHA) addressed the concerns in a statement, saying a security program is in place to ensure violence is reduced in healthcare facilities.
“All hospitals have on-site security and security guards have the capacity and ability to intervene in a situation with a potentially violent person if they pose a threat to themselves, the staff or the patients in our care,” the WRHA said in the statement.
“Additionally, the WRHA has implemented the Provincial Healthcare Violence Prevention program, which was developed in collaboration with the Manitoba Nurses Union. The Provincial Healthcare Violence Prevention Program is designed to ensure that every reasonable effort will be made to mitigate, eliminate or reduce all forms of violence in workplaces where healthcare services are provided.”
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