Aggression among Patients on the Rise, Says Nurse

In recent years, verbal and even physical attacks have become increasingly common in hospitals, with healthcare professionals witnessing a rise in patient aggression. The Institute for Clinical and Experimental Medicine (IKEM) in Prague has addressed this concerning trend by offering self-defense courses to its staff since the end of last year. The importance of understanding and effectively managing patient aggression cannot be overstated, and IKEM’s proactive approach is making a difference.

The self-defense courses organized by IKEM are part of the institute’s comprehensive effort to ensure the safety of its employees. The courses are offered to doctors, nurses, and other staff members in smaller groups, focusing on theoretical and practical aspects. Participants learn how to assess risks, prevent conflicts, and protect themselves effectively in challenging situations. The ultimate goal is to provide healthcare professionals with the skills and confidence to handle aggressive incidents without compromising safety.

Aggressive behavior from patients can manifest in various forms, including verbal abuse, physical assaults, and destructive actions. Recent incidents in hospitals nationwide highlight the urgency of addressing this issue. For instance, in a Pelhřimov hospital, a patient in a rage vandalized the toilets, while in the Pardubice hospital, a man verbally abused staff members and damaged hospital equipment. These situations not only threaten healthcare professionals’ well-being but also hinder the delivery of quality care to other patients.

IKEM’s self-defense courses provide practical training to healthcare workers on handling escalating situations. Participants learn techniques to assess and defuse conflicts, ensuring they do not escalate into physical altercations. They are taught to remain calm, maintain eye contact, and communicate assertively with aggressive patients. The courses emphasize the importance of situational awareness and equip participants with the necessary skills to protect themselves and others if physical intervention becomes necessary.

The initiative taken by IKEM serves as a model for other healthcare facilities across the country. Several hospitals in Beroun, Ostrava, and Havlíčkův Brod have also implemented similar self-defense courses as part of their safety measures. By empowering healthcare professionals with the knowledge and skills to respond effectively to aggressive incidents, these institutions create a safer environment for staff and patients.

It is essential to recognize that the rising aggression among patients is often fueled by factors such as heightened emotions, substance abuse, or underlying mental health disorders. While the immediate focus is on ensuring the safety of healthcare professionals, it is equally crucial to address the root causes of patient aggression. This requires a multi-faceted approach that promotes understanding and empathy, including early intervention, mental health support, and community education.

IKEM’s proactive stance in tackling patient aggression demonstrates its commitment to creating a safe and secure environment for its staff. By providing self-defense courses and promoting awareness, IKEM equips healthcare professionals with the tools to navigate challenging situations and protect themselves and their colleagues. As other hospitals take note of IKEM’s efforts, it is hoped that this collective commitment will lead to a significant reduction in patient aggression nationwide.