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On alert for violence in the ICU

As a critical care nurse, I found "Ten Strategies to Extinguish Potentially Explosive Behavior" (August 2011)* especially interesting. Because patients in the ICU and their families tend to experience high levels of stress, critical care nurses are at particular risk for encountering aggressive behavior and violence.1

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I don't believe that critical care nurses have the same level of awareness about aggressive behavior as experienced ED nurses and may be especially vulnerable if a patient becomes violent. Yet I've found very little information on the topic of violence in the critical care setting. Leaders in healthcare must ensure staff members are equipped with strategies to maintain a safe work environment, no matter where they work.




Celina, Tex.




Glen Cove, N.Y




1. Ferns T. Factors that influence aggressive behaviour in acute care settings. Nurs Stand. 2007;21(33):41-45.

Kudos to a nurse who made a difference


I want nurses to know that they can make a tremendous difference in a person's life. Just a few words spoken kindly can have a lasting impact. I know they did for me.


My husband Kal lay comatose in a special care unit at the Memorial Sloane-Kettering Cancer Center. A nurse, whom I'll call Ruth, monitored the machines that were keeping Kal alive. She monitored me as well, always checking on how I was doing. Ruth was present when Kal became bradycardic and then asystolic.


As I was leaving the unit, Ruth wrapped her arms around me, looked me in the eye, and said, "I know you're going to be all right." She spoke with conviction but probably with no idea of the lasting effect her words would have on my life.


In the months that followed, I thought I was losing my mind. I kept forgetting that Kal had died. I'd wait for him to return home from work. I'd set a place for him at the table. I'd think of something to tell him. And then suddenly it would hit me: He's gone!


On those occasions, I remembered what Ruth had said: "I know you're going to be all right." Those words stabilized me. They convinced me I was going to be all right.


Thank you, Ruth. And thanks to all of you nurses, for your kindness and compassion.


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