RPNAO calls on government, employers to better protect nurses

MISSISSAUGA, ON, Sept. 28, 2015 /CNW/ - Following the latest in a string of violent workplace attacks against Ontario nurses, the Registered Practical Nurses Association of Ontario is calling on the government and employers in the health care sector to better protect nurses while they're caring for patients.

While few details about the September 10 attack on a registered practical nurse (RPN) by a patient at the Royal Mental Health Care Group have been made public due to privacy concerns, the circumstances of the attack make it clear that nurses need more protection and support in dealing with patients known to have aggressive tendencies.

"Chronic understaffing and higher numbers of complex patients living with addictions and mental health conditions can combine to create volatile environments for both nurses and patients," says Dianne Martin, Executive Director of RPNAO. "If nurses don't have the resources and support they need to provide timely and appropriate patient care, complex patients with mental health or addictions issues are more likely to become agitated and violent and nurses are more vulnerable to attack."

"We must protect our nurses while always upholding the dignity and value of our patients," says Martin. "Managing complex illnesses can be very difficult. Although we can't always prevent patients from being violent – violence sometimes results from these conditions – we can certainly do more to provide our nurses with the support and resources they need to manage and de-escalate aggressive behaviour and reduce their vulnerability to attack."

Unless more is done to ensure adequate staffing levels, robust safety protocols and proper resources for treating complex patients, violent incidents such as this latest one in Ottawa will continue to occur. RPNAO is calling on the government and the province's nursing employers to make the issue of workplace violence a top priority. We must do more to care for our most complex mental health patients while at the same time reducing the vulnerability of our nurses to violence in the workplace.

About the Registered Practical Nurses Association of Ontario
Founded in 1958, RPNAO is the voice of practical nursing in Ontario. There are approximately 35,000 RPNs working in Ontario, playing a vital role in the province's health care system. For more information about RPNAO and how RPNs contribute to Ontario's health care system, please visit rpnao.org.

SOURCE Registered Practical Nurses Association of Ontario

For further information: Dianne Martin, Executive Director, Tel: (905) 602-4664 ext. 226

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