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Bite, Scratch and Pinch Protective Clothing for Healthcare Professionals

Bite, Scratch, Pinch Protective Clothing for Healthcare Professionals

The general public may well be largely unaware that the risk of being bitten, scratched, pinched or even hit by another human is sadly real to nurses and doctors, but for those men and women on the frontline this is no news.

Healthcare professionals from around the world express deep concern. Just last week Australia’s news outlet ABC published an article headlined “Nursing union renews call for guards at Port Lincoln hospital after attacks on nurse”.

The Australian Nursing Union claimed a nurse was attacked and bitten by a patient that jumped out of his bed on 13 October, and just two days later six police officers were called to the hospital to restrain another patient who punched a doctor in the emergency department and tried to bite other members of staff.

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On 22 January 2021 I had the chance to interview ‘Barry’, an Ohio (USA) based psychiatric nurse. One of the things that stuck in my mind were his comment that being bitten, and other forms of violence had become accepted by the industry and management as part of the job: 

“Management tries to create a belief that they care about staff assaults, but their actions (or lack thereof) speak louder than words.”  He strongly believed that protective products such as our BitePRO® Bite Resistant Clothing are very much needed for acute psychiatric nurses who are often the victims.

Another mental health nurse, also unfortunately making the news was Melbourne (Australia) based ‘Jessica’ who was bitten by one of her patients. The woman has latched onto her forearm with her top and bottom teeth and is pulling as hard as she can. Jessica ultimately left her job as a mental health nurse after developing PTSD after a series of attacks against her by patients. Speaking to Australian ’The Age’ newspaper in early 2021, she describes her ordeal and commented that her bite injury required stitches and she is now left with a scar on her arm.

Of course, it is a legal obligation, beholden to the employer, to keep their workforce safe. Yet comments like “we don’t have a risk assessment for this role or for this type of PPE” is something I am told frequently when discussing their team’s exposure to the risk of being bitten by a patient or service user.

If the risk of being bitten by another individual has been identified and is deemed 'realistic' or 'reasonable', then bite resistant clothing is most certainly worth considering and worth looking into.

Thousands of professionals working in mental or general health care settings have now invested in this type of protective clothing to experience that ‘peace of mind’.

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David Watts, Director of Risk and Safety of Priory Group, one of the UK’s leading and most respected provider of mental health care clinics stated:

“Whilst we are in the fortunate position to only need to use bite resistant clothing and arm guards in rare circumstances, when it has been used, we have received very favourable feedback. I am absolutely certain that the use of this type of protective clothing has helped us to prevent serious incidents and serious injury.”

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