Hospital staff in Missouri given panic buttons to call security on violent patients

I follow a lot of doctors and nurses on TikTok. They’re exhausted and frustrated. Covid patients they thought were improving will die suddenly. Patients’ families often blame them for their loved ones dying and others are dealing with combative patients and families. One hospital center in Branson, Missouri (where the vaccination rate is 39th among US states) is so concerned about the safety of their staff that they’ve given them panic buttons to summon security. GPS chips ensure that they can be quickly located.

Cox Medical Center Branson workers will soon have an added layer of protection after reports of staff assaults by patients tripled this past year.

Nurse Ashley Blevins says in the past year staff have been spit on, cussed out, and in some cases beaten by patients.

”It’s nice we have the chance to press our button and security knows exactly where we are and if we end up having to chase a patient down they’ll know where our last location is,” Ashley Blevins said.

Cox Branson’s Patient Safety Facilitator Angie Smith says after analyzing workplace violence numbers in Branson, she knew they needed this system…

Smith says the Emergency Room nurses see a lot of violence, but it also happens all throughout the hospital.

”It’s in our critical care units, it’s in our med surge floor areas, a lot of times it’s repeated violence as well we may have the same patient doing the same thing or getting worse each time they do it,” said Smith.

Nurse Blevins says she thinks the pandemic has had an impact on these situations as well.

”They come in here and they have to sit in here because everywhere’s full, we have no placements to put anybody and that’s frustrating on the patient that’s frustrating on us and I think that’s increasing a lot of violence towards everyone,” said Blevins.

[From KY3]

This is so bizarre to me but it turns out it’s part of a growing movement from the Qanon crowd to blame healthcare workers for the pandemic. Some are now advocating that people check their very sick loved ones out of ICUs and into hospice, which might sound superficially good as it would help lighten the burden on hospitals. It’s making things worse for them because these people are angry, radicalized, using harmful self treatments and sometimes attacking doctors and nurses. NBC news has a sad and sobering report about this. I’m not going to excerpt it as it’s a lot and is worth reading at the source.

Unvaccinated covid patients need DNR orders, they don’t need to be breathing hydrogen peroxide, gargling iodine and taking dewormer. I can’t imagine what nurses are going through at this point in the pandemic. I want to hear their stories and I don’t want to forget this point in history. A recent study showed that 66% of critical care nurses have considered quitting in the past year. They deal with patients whose arrogance has put them in the hospital when a vaccine is free and available at every pharmacy. Healthcare providers and beds are a limited resource and vaccinated people are dying from treatable conditions. Nurses are burnt out and getting attacked for doing their jobs. No wonder so many want to quit. A little button that summons a person with a gun isn’t going to fix that.

Photos are screenshots from NBC News video and via Instagram

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45 Responses to “Hospital staff in Missouri given panic buttons to call security on violent patients”

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  1. Betsy says:

    Trump really the cork out of the bottle, didn’t he? Or, I guess, it’s more like he brewed up several more bottles. People used to be able to behave themselves, more or less. There have always been hooligans and bad actors, but this just seems like regular enough people who have been brainwashed into violence and craziness.

    • Jessica says:

      Sadly nurses have been getting abused forever. Way before COVID. All this is doing is shining a light on it. I worked in the ED and nurses and techs and CNAs constantly face abuse and it’s pretty much impossible to file charges because police look at patients as lacking capacity for their actions and most of the time nothing happens to them. We had 24 hour security in my facility but that doesn’t help. COVID made it worse but this is not new in any way.

      • Betsy says:

        I know nurses have been abused forever; my grandmother was one back in the day. But this sure seems to be on another level and certainly tracks with the way that people seem to be unable to behave themselves everywhere. Last spring my kids’ principal had to send out an email begging parents to be kind to staff and especially the contact tracing staff. This is not normal.

  2. Oh_Hey says:

    A close family member is an RN and right before the panini broke out she decided to leave because of all of the violent and messy patients and that was before all this.

    It is increasingly looking like she made the right decision for her but because folks can’t act right even to those saving their lives they’ll continue to be shortages is super critical care.

    • Millenial says:

      So many were already burned out because hospitals have been deliberately short-staffing the nurses (and other healthcare workers) for decades. Even the non-profits end up being profit driven (their CEOS are making multi-million dollars per year, other worthless admins making 100k+ to “improve workflow” etc…). And where do they save on profits? By cutting staffing to dangerous levels.

  3. SarahCS says:

    This makes me so angry and frustrated and sad. Can we just stop with the actual death cults going strong out there these days.

    Thank you for including the vaccination pictures at the end for a mood lift, honestly I was almost ready to make an oscars style speech to the two women who gave me my vaccinations. I was SO grateful to them for giving their time to do the work.

    • Christine says:

      I am so with you. I burst into tears while getting my first dose, and my kindly nurse patted me on the arm and told me that she had many patients cry tears of joy. I don’t understand this disconnect with the anti-vaxxers, we HAVE a way out of this.

  4. Skyblue121 says:

    Ugh! The veterinary clinic I use had to send out an email telling people-clients to behave themselves. I was picking up Rx food for my dogger and confirmed with the receptionists that they are being harassed and threatened as well. I guess the covid-puppy/kitten increase coupled with veterinarian shortage has contributed to crazy behavior amongst pet owners.

  5. Lizzie Bathory says:

    I was horrified to learn a few years ago that many healthcare workers had to worry about violence from patients even pre-pandemic. And it’s gotten so much worse. It feels awful to say, but maybe it would be better if some of these radicalized folks heeded the “advice” to stay out of ICUs. Leave the nurses in peace & save space for people who need care for heart attacks, etc.

    • Jan90067 says:

      Thing is, even if they go to a hospice situation (which I think ONLY takes palliative or palliative end of life to be treated with horse paste or dewormer, wouldn’t they be taken to an ER when they fall ill from that snake oil treatment? They will most likely die from their virus cure/virus, so it’s just a larger circle back to the same spot. In the ER/ICU/vent, and saying Drs/Nurses caused the death.

      Sigh… I’m SO tired of this…it just did NOT have to be this bad!

  6. tanesha86 says:

    I’ve been an ER nurse for 4 years and I’ve definitely seen an increase in the number of violent patients who come through the ED lately. The increase definitely seems to have coincided with this pandemic. We’re having to call security throughout the shift, they basically stay camped out in the ER now

    • lanne says:

      Can’t you hit the violent patients with a trank dart? Or is that just for wildlife at the zoo? That’s just appalling to me. Let them check themselves out and into hospice, or better yet, let’s set up tents filled with Facebook experts to treat the unvaxxed with horse goo and bleach and peroxide gargles. They need to be kept out of hospitals.

      • cassandra says:

        That’s the hard part, you can’t really fully defend yourself and you have to get permission to give them sedatives.

        I had an old man with dementia grip me by both my shoulders hard enough to break skin. Outside of the hospital I would have shoved him off me and probably thrown a punch for good measure. Had I done that though, I probably would have lost my job.

        That being said, violence against health care workers is absolutely not new. My hospital has Staff Emergency buttons, but they’re on the wall so you better be able to get to it.

    • NotSoSocialButterfly says:

      I haven’t worked in critical care for a long time, but even in the 90s we had violent patients- mostly because they were terrified of the illness/injury or the complete lack of control of the situation, but this shit is beyond the pale. My heart goes out to all nurses during this time.
      Facing abject futility every single day you walk in is bad enough, but to be subject to so much more abuse by these deluded ingrates is infuriating to me on behalf of my fellow RNs.

      • I haven’t worked as a nurse in a long time either,but here to say that violence toward nurses has always been a thing (along with verbal abuse and sexual advances…)
        I can only imagine how awful it’s become during pandemic times.
        I will not return to my former career,it’s inevitably too stressful for me.

        Sending a serious debt of gratitude to all nurses,techs,aids,assistants and so many others in the medical field sacrificing so much and being so dedicated.Stay safe,You are appreciated.

      • NotSoSocialButterfly says:

        Now that more men are entering nursing (HUZZAH!), I think things may begin to change. Sad, but true.

  7. Bettyrose says:

    It’s a good reminder to the rest of us to be extra courteous when we’re in a health care environment. Though right now all my appointments are in zoom. Even physical therapy. I can’t imagine ever going back to the old ways now that we know certain things can be done just as effectively online. Saves so much time and overhead to have fewer non emergency patients on site.

  8. Venus says:

    My unstable BIL caused a scene at a hospital recently (not COVID related). He boasted to me that the head of security came to “hear his concerns.” I think they really came to assess the level of threat he represented and talk him down before he did something awful. I think a panic button is a really good idea.

  9. Ellie says:

    I’m from Missouri and this doesn’t surprise me in the slightest. A good chunk of the people I am Facebook friends with back home, including my idiot brother, are antivaxxers who spew total nonsense and I could see getting violent at the drop of a hat.

    • Joanna says:

      I’m from Missouri too. My mom worked at this hospital for a total of 30 years when it was still Skaggs Hospital. I was so glad when we all moved to Florida but unfortunately it is pretty much the same here. But my mom is now retired and I can’t leave her IMO.

  10. janey janey says:

    A few fundamental truths.

    Nearly every American who does not work in the healthcare system (and many who do) do not understand that there are limitations driven by patient capacity. You will be left to die if no bed is available. End stop. Hospitals will put in triage measures to assess patients ability to survive when allocating the availability of treatment…so those death panels from Obama. Welp, your right wing nut bags who refused to vaccinate has brought them here now.

    No one understands this until well…they or someone they love dies because there’s no hospital, doctor, nurse, etc. available to treat you.

    Even then, most people struggle to admit they are wrong and double down. So, you see violence like this occurring more and people just opting out of the health system because it’s a vast conspiracy (IT’S RIGGED…sound familiar?). The ones who survive are even more angry and blame the government who SUPRISE just happen to be a senate controlled by democrats and democratic president! The GOP has everything to gain in making this health crisis worse, people dying and stoking discord. They care about being in power and will do anything to get there. If it’s this nonsense, fine.

    • Just read an article yesterday about Alaska,Montana,and Idaho being in this medical shortage/situation;they are assessing patients on their determined “years to live “and or as you said ability to survive.

      Due to the people who refuse to take this seriously;who refuse vaccines,and all other safety measures to stop Covid we are seeing more and more of this where medical professionals will have no choice but to choose who can be treated medically and who must be made to wait exceptional lengths of time or even be turned away.People didn’t think it could happen in our country but here we are.

  11. Lunasf17 says:

    Ugh so sad for these workers! Also about half the nurses I know full on anti vaxxers and the other half are begging people to get vaccinated. Qaanon and misinformation really is targeting these nurses (this is very well researched and mostly coming from Russia). If you target nurses and get them to be anti vaxx then they are influencing this movement and unfortunately many nurses are driving the anti vaxx movements and think they are heroes for refusing to get vaccinated and walking out of their jobs. I feel like we are stuck in a nightmare some days.

  12. LittlePenguin says:

    Oh lord, I was really hoping this was only in Alberta, Canada. We are the worst in Canada for Covid right now and our leadership has abandoned us. My mom is 18 months away from retirement and she said she’s really scared with how people are treating healthcare professionals. They have had to adopt a buddy system when they aren’t on the unit (i.e. walking to their car after shift.) Similar stories from my husband and sister who also work in HC. (My husband works with addictions patients, so he’s sadly used to abuse) Recovered patients, families of patients, all are getting violent with HCW’s. here. They blocked ambulances the other day bringing people to the hospital (one was a pregnant lady with complications). It makes me so upset for humanity.

  13. qtpi says:

    Conspiracy theorists are driving the belief that doctors and nurses are the ones killing people. So if people are reading that garbage and then need a hospital… whew boy. They are telling people to check their families out of the ICU so they can treat them with ivermectin at home! I don’t know how we ever get out of this. One party in particular is not reining in their crazies but encouraging it.

  14. tired nurse says:

    I never have commented before, but as an ER nurse who’s leaving after almost 10 years, I couldn’t hold back. I love being an ER nurse, I thought I’d do it forever, but this pandemic has ruined my love for my job. Between patients who don’t get vaccinated but expect us to do everything, increasing amounts of violent and suicidal patients who spend days in our department due to lack of beds, and hospital administrators who understaff us but expect us to do more with less, I can’t take it anymore. Like many ER and ICU nurses, I’m moving to a different department (OR in my case) because my mental and physical health has suffered so much. We’re going to have a whole new healthcare crisis soon with nurses refusing to work in critical care areas.

    • Alarmjaguar says:

      I am so very sorry! When my dad was in the hospital for a stroke, the nurses were amazing and did so much work. I can’t even imagine the stress the pandemic has placed on the system, let along having to worry about violent, angry patients.

    • Sid says:

      tired nurse, I know it won’t help much but you and your fellow healthcare workers have ALL of my sympathy. What is happening right now to healthcare staff, and what was happening even right before the pandemic, is beyond ridiculous. I don’t know what to say.

    • Offering my thanks and support; I said up above that I was a nurse and am not planning to return ever to the profession.It’s hard enough during normal times,I’m immunocompromised and stopped working some time ago.

      That said I see you say you will be going to the OR-that was my specialty and I really enjoyed it,I wish you the best as you transition into a new area of practice.

      • tired nurse says:

        Thank you all so much. I couldn’t have survived this time without the encouragement of those who actually listen ♥️ And thank you spice cake! I’m nervous about essentially learning my job all over again, but excited to try something new away from covid hell.

  15. ME says:

    It’s crazy how there seems to be two worlds going on right now. One where hospitals are packed with Covid patients and people are urged to get the vaccine and mask up (as they should) and a world where people are living completely free not giving a f*ck. Awards shows? Yeah sure why not ! Vacations around the world? Yes sir ! A huge wedding? Gimme it ! This pandemic is never going to end if everyone doesn’t start to smarten up. Also, stop f*cking attacking Health Care Workers. What is wrong with people ???

  16. stagaroni says:

    My cousin from Texas recently passed away from covid, and she was unvaccinated. For those of us vaccinated, we are still reeling from this senseless death. I digress. She did not have a living will and her husband would not remove her from life support. When the doctors said there was nothing else they could do, the rest of the family was told she had “gone to heaven.” She had not. She was laying in a hospital, alone, waiting to die while those fools insisted she had gone to be with God. While another person waited for care.

    THIS is the mindset of people. Nothing makes sense. They make up the rules to suit their agenda. And we need to be clear…these are people who want to upend democracy.

  17. Lizzie says:

    I’m starting to believe that covid19 isn’t the only pandemic virus – people have literally lost their minds.

  18. olliesmom says:

    All of these medical miracles that we have at our disposal and they are worthless if there isn’t anyone to administer them.

    People have become such a**holes. Stricter penalties for acting up. Money will work with most of them. Hit them in the wallet.

  19. Celina says:

    My daughter has been an ER tech for a few years. It’s hard work but rewarding. Until the pandemic. She’s been punched, kicked, spat on. At least twice since the pandemic started it’s been bad enough that she had to be admitted due to a patient hurting her. She transferred out to protect her mental health. I know she loves what she does but this has put her at a breaking point. She may go back at some point but wow. People are awful.

  20. gelya says:

    I use to comment over here but it has been a long time. I live in this area. Not only do the nurses have a panic button but Cox South Springfield ER department just recently got a dog to protect them too. The hospitals are a nightmare around here. Hugs & lots of love to all of you who work in hospitals. I appreciate you and respect you.
    One of my loved ones was an ER nurse at Cox. He left because how horrible and insane the patients are.
    The horror stories I can tell about the “Trumper’s Covid is Not Real” jerks.
    I am fully vaccinated, masking & social distancing. Keeping my circle small. Trust me in an area like this it is a target on your back.
    Anti-Vaxxer said to my husband recently about getting the vaccine and masking he didn’t care if people died. They really don’t until they get Covid then it’s only about saving them.

    • Joanna says:

      Hi I probably don’t know you but I was raised in that area. My mom worked there before Cox bought it (when it was Skaggs). Take care of yourself hon.

  21. Jane says:

    RN of nearly a decade here. Patients have always been violent, assaultive, and verbally abusive but the pandemic has definitely worsened the situation. We have lost so many staff and can’t keep up. Our ER was at double capacity today with a dozen patients waiting for beds we don’t have. Those who are unvaccinated due to “personal choice” (not medically unable) because they’ve “done their research” or don’t want to be “sheeple” tend to be pretty damn entitled as well. They expect to be treated differently and have tantrums when their demands are not immediately met.

    We are drowning. What little faith I had in humanity is slipping away day by day. The hospital feels like it’s on fire but the rest of the country acts like nothing is happening, it’s all fine, the pandemic is over. It sure as hell isn’t for us. We are exhausted. I question how much longer I can do this. I’ve learned to live with the verbal abuse and insults, but the constant, steady stream of patients with an avoidable infection, the suffering, the dying, the exhaustion from it all….Those of us in healthcare, we are not ok, and anyone who says they are ok is lying or in denial.

    I can’t believe how selfish, self-centered, and irresponsible so many of my fellow Americans are.

    • Pusspants says:

      @Jane, First, I’m so incredibly sorry that you & your fellow nurses (and other medical professionals) have been treated so poorly by some patients. I’m sorry that because some people refuse to follow medical advice to get vaccinated the downstream effect is that your job has become more stressful. I also very much appreciate that you & others like you choose to take care of others when they are sick or injured as a daily job. I wish I could rub a lamp and ask a genie to make this all stop. Sending you a virtual hug!

      • Jane says:

        Thank you, Pusspants. Please continue to wear masks in public, vaccinate if medically able, and social distance whenever you can. The variants are hitting so quick and hard and evolving so fast. Be safe.

    • Valerie says:

      I’m sorry, Jane. I wish something could be done about this. America is so sick right now with something much more insidious and virulent than COVID.

  22. Jezebeelzebub says:

    OBGYN nurse, here. We’ve always been treated poorly, if not by patients then by their families; if not by the families then by doctors; if not by doctors then by Admin: if not Admin then by each other. Shit’s crazy. Covid has absolutely made everyone who is already shitty about 1000 times shittier. ER nurses- god bless you, I could never do what yall do.

  23. AMJ says:

    It’s something that is happening around the whole world. I live in Poland, patients here are extremely aggressive, some unhinged people were burning down the makeshift quick vaccination clinics so now the police has to make rounds in the cities watching the vaccination points to avoid another attack. The gov’t is made of imbeciles who handled the pandemic horribly and now are quick to blame the situation on medical personnel. The joined medical professionals (doctors, nurses, EMTs, lab diagnosticians) are protesting, but the government doesn’t want to talk with them. When an elderly cancer patient commited suicide publicly during the protest, the regime media reported he killed himself in a gesture against the protest (!!).

  24. Valerie says:

    I wish hospitals were able to deny people like this treatment. Couldn’t they label them non-compliant and dismiss them on that basis? Don’t go to the hospital thinking you can dictate your treatment or that that you can kick and punch your way into a bed. You were probably just on FB two minutes ago, mocking healthcare workers. Ditto your family. If you think you know what’s best, stay home and do it yourself.

    There should be stricter laws around this. That way you can hit these jerkoffs with a double whammy: I thought this wasn’t that serious? And I thought that you said that if people just obeyed the law, the police wouldn’t have to use excessive force? 🙂