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The Star Tribune reports that nurses across Twin Cities hospitals are pressing for more workplace safety in their contract negotiations. As hospitals are in negotiations with the Minnesota Nurses Association (MNA), they’re hearing that protections for nurses are becoming a top priority, as nurses are wearied from being hit, shoved, or yanked by their patients.
This is the first time nursing contract negotiations are being held since 2016, when Allina hospital nurses went on strike for health insurance benefits. These current negotiations have been in talks, with contracts set to expire May 31. But it appears that no deal will be happening by then, and the MNA is planning to strike again.
One nurse, Mary McGibbon, shared with the Star Tribune that she wore a sling for her elbow injury (brought about accidentally by a patient) to a contract negotiation meeting. Accidents with patients are common enough, but there is more concern as hospitals have seen an increase of patients with mental health issues. Sometimes the patients will deliberately attack their nurses, which can be so traumatic it affects their ability to work.
Steady Increase of Patient-Caused Injuries
Workers compensation claims increased by nearly 40 percent between 2013 and 2014, up to 70 percent, and have remained at 65 percent or higher since then. These numbers reported by the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry only count the most severe cases reported, including those where nurses missed three or more days of work due to injury.
Talks for nurse protection have been gaining speed since a 2014 incident, where a patient attacked and injured four nurses with a metal bar. Minnesota passed a law in 2015, making hospital staff training on de-escalating and preventing violence mandatory.
Another nurse, Michelle Smith, is back to work in surgical recovery but still going through recovery from a concussion she got roughly two years ago. She similarly is pushing for more support in negotiations to prevent these incidents from happening.
“There’s that fear,” Smith shared with the Star Tribune. “You still treat your patients the way you’re going to treat your patients, but there’s that thing in the back of your head — ‘could this happen again?’”
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