In adherence to paragraph five of the NMC code of professional Conduct (2008) which requires nurses to maintain anonymity and confidentiality, a pseudonym is used in this critical incident for the identity of the patient. The patient will be called John.
I was a novice in my last placement in a dementia ward. It was a Monday morning, all the patients were having their breakfast in the lounge .It was my second week of placement where I was asked by a nurse to go and observe a suicidal patient suffering from anorexia nervosa. The patient was a 37 year old male named John. When I got to John’s room he was asleep. During observation, John woke up and started reacting upon seeing me as he was expecting to see the other nurse. He looked very confused and anxious. He became very agitated and started throwing things around.
I tried calming John down using my existing experience from my work place and what I had learnt to date. However John turned out to be very aggressive and was now throwing objects at me. As I did not have an alarm, I had no choice but leave him alone and rushed to the office to seek help. In my absence, John managed to grab hold of a razor and had disappeared from his room. He had locked himself in the bathroom and was slashing his wrist. When the other nurse arrived she asked John to open the door, he was not responding. The nurse had to open the door with the spare key only to find John bleeding profusely from his slashed wrist.
When I saw John had sliced his wrists and was bleeding, I felt panic, a sense of guilt and also angry towards the staff that had put me in that vulnerable situation, as I had not known him well enough, in addition to that I had no alarm and I was still a novice. Being naive I did not question or decline when the nurse had asked me to go to his room, I did not expect or predict what would have happened.
The nurse managed to convince him into giving back the razor and first aid was given to him. In the meantime the...