Bill advances that would help protect health care workers against violence

Jessica Lopeman is a registered nurse in Montana, and like many of her colleagues she has suffered physical and verbal abuse at the hands of her patients.

Addressing the lingering marks on her wrists, Lopeman explained that a patient had suddenly grabbed her, gripping her wrist so tightly that his long fingernails drew blood. When she couldn’t get away, she called out for someone to help her.

When the unit secretary helped her to get free, Lopeman cleaned her wounds with soap and water and bandaged herself before going back to work. Even though she reported the incident, hospital leadership never investigated and no one talked to the patient about the assaultive behavior.

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At another facility where she worked, an upset patient popped off a cap on his walking stick to reveal a pointed weapon concealed inside. The patient used the walking stick to threaten Lopeman, the physician, security officers and a uniformed police officer, she said.

“When we feel scared to do our jobs, when we feel unsafe in a place that should feel safe, when we are harassed, pinched, spit on, bitten, kicked and grabbed, we feel less

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