Q What can I do to meet my obligation to my patient when I feel my personal safety is at risk? If I feel unsafe with a potentially violent patient, can I refuse to give care?

A Anna Dermenchyan, rn, msn, ccrn-k, replies:

Workplace violence is an unacceptable situation and yet it is a reality that too many nurses face. According to an American Nurses Association (ANA) survey, 43% (of 3765) registered nurses and nursing students have been verbally and/or physically threatened by a patient or family member of a patient. Additionally, 24% have been physically assaulted by a patient or a family member of a patient while at work. US federal law dictates that an employee is entitled to a safe workplace that is free of known health and safety hazards. Specifically, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration states that if the...

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