Nurse punched in the face by man believed high on meth, says Manitoba Nurses Union

An unprovoked, possibly meth-related assault on a nurse at Winnipeg’s Grace Hospital Friday night is far from an isolated incident, says the nurses’ union.

The Manitoba Nurses Union told 680CJOB that a nurse was punched in the face Friday, and they believe the man who punched her was high on methamphetamine.

According to statistics from the union, the number of patients high on meth admitted to emergency rooms has increased by 1,200 per cent since 2013, which they say has resulted in a dangerous working environment for people in the medical field.

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“What they’re seeing is patients that are coming in high on methamphetamine, they may be in a meth-induced psychosis, which means they are generally quite paranoid and have very high anxiety levels,” union president Darlene Jackson said.

“They’re also very erratic, with unexpected behaviour. They can become very aggressive, which means you can’t really anticipate the type of behaviours they’re going to display.

“It’s often unprovoked, it is sudden, and we’ve been saying for a long time that we need security in those emergency rooms that have peace officer status that can restrain and detain. What we’re seeing is if there is security, they do not have peace officer status and are unable to be hands-on with the patient.”

Jackson said in many hospitals, a nurse fills out a form called an RL6 whenever there’s a violent incident. The form documents what happened, who was involved, and what the outcome was. Across the province, she said, the number of incident reports filed has increased dramatically.

WATCH: ‘Meth has become the new alcohol’: Experts say more drug resources are needed to cope with crisis

Winnipeg police say they have seen the number of people using meth and other drugs rise in crimes across the city.

“Hospitals are going to see an increase in violence,” Const. Tammy Skrabek said.

“This is a much larger issue. I think all together on all the different scales we all have a part to play in attempting to control it, from a police angle we need to find the people who are dealing it, we need to reduce the amount of drugs that are out there.”

At Health Sciences Centre, the number of RL6 forms received in 2018 has already doubled the numbers from all of 2017. At the Grace Hospital, the union’s statistics report that the number of ‘code white’ reports of violence has increased considerably as well, with violent reports sometimes taking place multiple times per day.

Medical staff in Winnipeg aren’t alone when it comes to this problem. At Brandon Regional Hospital, the number of incident reports is on pace for an increase over last year as well.

The Winnipeg Regional Health Authority (WRHA) addressed the concerns in a statement, saying a security program is in place to ensure violence is reduced in healthcare facilities.

“All hospitals have on-site security and security guards have the capacity and ability to intervene in a situation with a potentially violent person if they pose a threat to themselves, the staff or the patients in our care,” the WRHA said in the statement.

“Additionally, the WRHA has implemented the Provincial Healthcare Violence Prevention program,  which was developed  in collaboration with the Manitoba Nurses Union. The Provincial Healthcare Violence Prevention Program is designed to ensure that every reasonable effort will be made to mitigate, eliminate or reduce all forms of violence in workplaces where healthcare services are provided.”

Month / Year “Meth” Visit Count
Apr 2013 12
May 2013 20
Jun 2013 16
Jul 2013 13
Aug 2013 16
Sep 2013 11
Oct 2013 8
Nov 2013 25
Dec 2013 16
Jan 2014 21
Feb 2014 14
Mar 2014 19
Apr 2014 9
May 2014 31
Jun 2014 41
Jul 2014 28
Aug 2014 45
Sep 2014 27
Oct 2014 31
Nov 2014 34
Dec 2014 31
Jan 2015 29
Feb 2015 20
Mar 2015 32
Apr 2015 44
May 2015 46
Jun 2015 57
Jul 2015 48
Aug 2015 60
Sep 2015 56
Oct 2015 65
Nov 2015 64
Dec 2015 54
Jan 2016 50
Feb 2016 66
Mar 2016 68
Apr 2016 76
May 2016 93
Jun 2016 95
Jul 2016 112
Aug 2016 91
Sep 2016 116
Oct 2016 122
Nov 2016 90
Dec 2016 111
Jan 2017 124
Feb 2017 128
Mar 2017 159
Apr 2017 154
May 2017 149
Jun 2017 183
Jul 2017 177
Aug 2017 164
Sep 2017 170
Oct 2017 180
Nov 2017 168
Dec 2017 187
Jan 2018 199
Feb 2018 160
Mar 2018 187
Apr 2018 218
May 2018 212
Jun 2018 235
Jul 2018 241

WATCH: Meth Q&A: Winnipeg police talk about the surge in violent crime

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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