As a certified nursing assistant, there are many situations that you will face. One of the most important issues is the topic of abuse and neglect. Your CNA training class is designed to address the needs of those who will be in your care and to insure that you will avoid unintended patient abuse. Yes, we’ve all heard the horror stories that make the headlines about health care workers who intentionally use the position they are in to harm those who are in their care. Although unfortunate, these things do take place. But what about unintentional abuse or neglect? If you are committed to integrity, this should not be a problem that you will face as a CNA. It is important to have a clear understanding of what defines patient abuse and neglect, so you will not find yourself in a situation where you could be accused of mistreatment of your patients.
CNA Training: Understanding Patient Abuse and Neglect
Depending on what type of facility you work in, there may be more patients who are vulnerable to abuse and neglect. These facilities include centers for the mentally ill or mentally disabled, facilities that care for those with long term physical illnesses, and facilities that care for those who are unable to properly communicate due to physical conditions such as hearing loss, vision impairment, or speech difficulties.
If you choose to be a CNA at a facility that cares for the disabled or those with long term illnesses, you will find yourself faced with daily challenges that could easily fall into the category of patient abuse.
By going over the following tips and situations, you’ll possibly save yourself from a situation that could affect your career as a certified nursing assistant.
What Qualifies as Patient Abuse?
Your CNA training class will include an entire section that is dedicated to patient rights. If you are working as a nursing assistant in a facility with vulnerable individuals, there are many things that can be classified as patient abuse. Possibilities include the following:
- A patient who is mentally ill may speak unkindly to you. He or she may be easily aggravated and even verbally abusive. If a patient is difficult to deal with, he still has the right to medical care. If you are employed at a center for the mentally ill, you will need extra training to deal with your own frustrations and possible anger. Never allow yourself to engage negatively with a patient, regardless of how you are treated.
- A patient has the right to refuse meals or beverages if they so choose. Never force a patient to eat or drink. Note meal refusal on your end-of-shift report or speak to your supervisor. Forcing a patient to eat or drink, even if it is best for them, can be viewed as patient abuse.
What Qualifies as Patient Neglect?
Signs of patient neglect are never tolerated in a facility. Signs of possible patient neglect include the following:
- An unclean body
- Pressure sores (also known as bed sores)
- Unanswered call lights for extended periods
- Soiled linens or clothing
- Body lice
- Dehydration / Malnutrition / Weight loss
- Not having fresh water available and within reach
Another form of neglect, which is not often discussed, is witnessing neglect or abuse and failing to report it. As a certified nursing assistant, it is your responsibility to report any sign of abuse or neglect that you witness. If it is discovered that you are aware of a situation, yet fail to report it, you will be in danger of losing your license.
If you feel uncomfortable reporting neglect or abuse to your supervisor, you can contact the Ombudsman for your facility. An Ombudsman is an advocate for the residents of the center. Each facility is required to have the name and phone number of the Ombudsman clearly posted in the commons area.
As a certified nursing assistant, you have a rewarding career that comes with an awesome responsibility. You’re residents rely on you to keep them safe and healthy. A CNA who takes their job and their CNA training seriously will have years of a satisfying career ahead of them.