‘This should never have happened:’ BCNU president says attack on nurse was preventable

‘This should never have happened:’ BCNU president says attack on nurse was preventable

More safety precautions and officers needed to prevent violence against nurses, union head says

Hospitals need to do much more to protect their workers, the head of the BC Nurses Union said Wednesday in the wake of an attack on a nurse at Abbotsford Regional Hospital this week.

A patient used an exercise weight to strike a nurse in the face, breaking her jaw, fracturing her cheekbone and causing other serious injuries. BCNU president Christine Sorensen called the attack “tragic” and said the victim of the attack faces a long recovery and may never return to work as a nurse. The attack occurred in an inpatient medical unit at the hospital.

RELATED: Nurse suffers broken jaw in patient ‘ambush’ at Abbotsford hospital

Sorensen said the perpetrator of Tuesday’s attack had been assessed and found to have violent tendencies. The nurse treating him, meanwhile, was described as “extremely competent” and “dedicated.”

“This is an extremely tragic event [that] is preventable,” Sorensen said. “This should never have happened. This patient was a known risk for violence and the appropriate measures should have been put in place.”

Sorensen said government needs to ensure that hospitals have trained “safety officers” available to help with all potentially violent patients.

Sorensen said the perpetrator of Tuesday’s attack was restrained after striking the nurse, but she did not know how that took place, or who was tasked with restraining the man. Fraser Health said hospitals do provide security support for patients who are deemed to be potentially violent. That could include security personnel either outside a door, or in the room while treatment is delivered.

A Fraser Health spokesperson said a security officer was nearby when the attack occurred.

Sorensen, though, said that attack shows more needs to be done to protect nurses. She pointed to another serious attack in the ARH emergency room in 2015 that left a nurse reeling from facial wounds. That nurse never returned to work in Abbotsford. Sorensen said the danger of the job is one of several reasons the Abbotsford ER has been facing a shortage of trained nurses for years.

“I can only imagine the ripple effects through this facility when nurses are afraid to come to work.”

An internal risk assessment obtained by The News in 2017 showed that three-quarters of emergency room nurses had experienced a physical assault within a single calendar year. That report did not catalogue violence elsewhere in the hospital.

The man has since been returned to hospital for continued treatment, but is under guard by multiple people, Sorensen said.

The News has requested to speak to Health Minister Adrian Dix.

In a statement emailed to The News, Fraser Health CEO Victoria Lee said: “I am extremely concerned and saddened by this assault on one of our nurses. Our priority at the moment is to ensure she receives the appropriate care and support. I am also very concerned about the impact this has had on our staff and physicians. We are providing support and counselling, and we will continue to support them.

“Violence against any of our health care workers is unacceptable. As a clinician, I know that people come to work every day to help others, and are ready to care for the most sick and vulnerable members of our communities. We need to ensure as an organization we are caring for our health care providers.”

Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email:
tolsen@abbynews.com


@ty_olsen
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Abbotsford Panthers star Haidyn Vermeulen (right) celebrates his signing with the Alberta Golden Bears football program along with his mother Niki Vermeulen and father Dan Vermeulen back in September.
Abbotsford’s Haidyn Vermeulen named to CFC Prospect Game

Abbotsford Senior Secondary School student one of 14 from B.C. to earn recognition

Shane Goodvin had just bought a house with wife Laura Major when he started experiencing severe back pain. That led to a diagnosis of pancreatic cancer, and the father of five children is now in rough shape. (Submitted photos)
GoFundMe set up for Chilliwack man fighting pancreatic cancer

Shane Goodvin has five children and a loving wife, and he’s worried about their future

The annual West Coast Christmas Show is normally held at Tradex in Abbotsford, but this year’s event is taking place as an online shop. (Abbotsford News file photo)
West Coast Christmas Show goes virtual for 2020

Annual event, normally held at Tradex in Abbotsford, holds online shop

Tabor Home in Abbotsford. (Ben Lypka/Abbotsford News)
UPDATE: Tabor Home records 16 deaths and 124 COVID-19 cases

63 per cent of residents at Abbotsford long-term-care facility have tested positive

There are 32 active outbreaks in seniors' homes in the Fraser Health region.
MAP: 32 active COVID-19 outbreaks in Fraser Health seniors’ homes

There are 32 active outbreaks in assisted-living, long-term care homes and seniors’ rental buildings

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, Nov. 23, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C. daily COVID-19 cases hits record 941 on Tuesday

Further restrictions on indoor exercise take effect

A fentanyl test strip is used at Vancouver Coastal Health in Vancouver, Tuesday, January, 21, 2020. The test strips will be made available to drug users to ensure that their drugs are safe and free of Fentanyl. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Drug overdoses lead to 5 deaths each day in October; drug toxicity continues to increase

COVID-19 crisis continues to exacerbate the overdose crisis

An employee of the Adventure Hotel was taken to hospital on Nov. 20 after she confronted a customer of Empire Coffee about not wearing a mask. File photo.
Nelson hotel employee suffers heart attack after being assaulted in anti-mask incident

An accountant at the Adventure Hotel is in hospital in Kelowna

Damien Smith, with father Thomas Smith, is “frozen” with joy as he watches a special message Deadpool star Ryan Reynolds recorded for Damien’s 9th birthday on Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2020. (Contributed)
Shuswap boy celebrates 9th birthday with family, community and Ryan Reynolds

People from around the world send birthday cards showing young Canoe resident he’s not alone

(Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Refuse to follow B.C.’s mask mandate? Face a $230 fine

Masks are now required to be worn by all British Columbians, 12 years and older

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speak to the media about the COVID-19 virus outside Rideau Cottage in Ottawa, Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s inability to manufacture vaccines in-house will delay distribution: Trudeau

First doses of COVID-19 vaccine expected in first few months of 2021, prime minister says

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Beaver Creek RCMP Cpl. Robert Drapeau, left to right, Gary Bath, Lynn Marchessault, Payton Marchessault, Rebecca Marchessault and Tim Marchessault pose in this recent handout photo near the Canada-U.S. border crossing near Beaver Creek, Yukon. A family reunion trip for the woman from Georgia that left them stranded ended on a bright note when Bath drove them to the Alaskan border following an appeal for help. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Gary Bath *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Help from B.C. man allows American family to reunite in Alaska

Lynn Marchessault drove from Georgia to the Alaska border to join her husband, who serves in U.S. military

Most Read