Mental Health Nurse Tells Of Trauma After Being Bitten By Patient

Why is 'bite resistant clothing' so important?

In order for me to explain why we believe bite resistant clothing  (click here: www.bite-pro.comis of such relevance and importance, especially to the personal safety of mental health care professionals, please allow me to tell you the following story:

It's a Thursday night in a psychiatric unit in Melbourne and Jessica Anderson is being 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 has left her job as a mental health nurse after developing PTSD after a series of attacks against her by patients. 

But Jessica's is focusing on her colleagues. One of her workmates is sprawled on the floor after being thrown across the room. The other is doubled over in pain after being kicked in the groin. After twelve years as a nurse, Jessica Anderson will probably never work in the sector again. 

Speaking to Australian ’The Age’ newspaper, she describes her ordeal and commented:

"I didn't realize what had happened until the end of my shift when I thought 'Jeez my arm is a bit painful'. I rolled back my sleeve of my jumper to have a look and a bit of skin fell off my arm."

Jessica’s bite injury required stitches and she is now left with a scar on her arm. I truly believe Jess and her colleagues would have done everything in their power to prevent injuries of this type, but bite resistant clothing is the last form of defence if everything else fails. 

Over her twelve-year career as a mental health nurse, Jess says she has been injured, abused and threatened at work too many times to count. She has been punched in the face, spat on and people have told her that they will kill her. She has also been bitten on four separate occasions, and never wore bite resistant arm guards. 

As an organizer with the Health and Community Services Union, she is speaking about her time as a mental health nurse to help the public understand what they go through, and in the hope that employers will offer better support.

Jessica says she did not have any mental health problems before she began nursing, but was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and anxiety in 2011 because of her "accumulated trauma".

There is stigma attached to seeking help for mental health issues while working in the mental health sector. She has taken leave without pay from her job at a Melbourne hospital – and says she only received paid time off for her physical injuries, which quickly healed.

Her message is that the personal safety of mental health care workers must be improved.

A joint study between the Health and Community Services Union and the University of Melbourne in 2014 found that more than one in three Victorian mental health workers were physically assaulted within a year.  We can reduce this number and create a safer working environment if the appropriate protection is used.

Reducing the risk of injuries caused by biting, scratching and pinching

BitePRO® is a range of bite resistant clothing and arm guards designed to protect care professionals working with vulnerable children and adults who present challenging behaviour. 

Our specialist garments prevent teeth from breaking the skin, effectively reducing the risks of serious injury and infection associated with human bites.

We have already offered hundreds of professionals in mental health care, special education, and associated services peace of mind to continue providing the best possible support to children and adults in their care. 

"In my field of helping people with disabilities, we often face daily challenges but with the peace of mind that our staff are well protected, we are able to attend to the needs of the clients without having to worry about becoming injured. So far through daily use of Bite Resistant Clothing, my staff have not been injured on their arms while wearing the sleeve guards and are completely satisfied with the high-quality products". Sterling Barbosa, Valley Achievement Center, California, USA

The risk of being bitten by a human is a reality for professionals working in specialist schools for severe learning disabilities, challenging behaviour, special needs or autism – as well as care workers within mental health care facilities and psychiatric hospitals. Bite related injuries can of course become infected and mental health care professionals could subsequently be contaminated with pathogens. Transmissions of potentially life-threatening viruses, such as Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C or HIV are also a part of reality.

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.” 

Please visit our website for further information: www.bite-pro.com, and contact our team of specialists for advice on the use of bite resistant clothing, and tailored solutions for your specific requirements:

T: +44 (0) 845 5193 953

E: info@bite-pro.com


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