Patients who face longer wait times in emergency rooms, and lack privacy and beds for treatment are taking out their frustrations on nurses more than ever, health-care workers say.
Documented cases in which nurses have reported unsafe working conditions have jumped significantly over the last year at Foothills, Peter Lougheed Centre, Rockyview and Alberta Children's Hospital.
"Nurse abuse is huge. It's huge in the emergency room, it's huge in the psych units, it's rising all over the hospital," says Tanice Olson, a day surgery nurse at the Peter Lougheed and second vice-president for UNA Local 1.
"Patients are attacking nurses. They're hitting them, they're scratching them, they're throwing phones at them.
"Everything is backed up. We're short of beds. People are waiting longer for care. And the longer they wait, the more anxious and frustrated they become."
Statistics from the Professional Responsibility Committee, a health-care group that includes union and management representatives, show incidents in which nurses reported unsafe working conditions are clearly on the rise.
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