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Terrified Nurses Build Barricade After Patient Threatened Them, Police Say

Violence against healthcare workers is on the rise in the US.

Terrified nurses were forced to barricade themselves in a hospital room after an out-of-control patient ran amok through the facility and threatened to kill them. The incident happened in Grand Island, Nebraska, around 8 pm on August 31. Officers who responded to the 911 call were also attacked by the rampaging patient, who managed to destroy several thousand dollars worth of property by the time he was apprehended. Here's what happened to the nurses, and how the man was finally caught.

Running Wild

City of Grand Island Police Department/Facebook

According to the Grand Island Police, patient Gerald Carrabba caused pandemonium at CHI Health St. Francis hospital after he trashed equipment and threatened nurses. Carrabba's violent outburst was so disturbing the nurses shut themselves in a room to get away from the man, who was running around with a large piece of wood screaming, "I'm going to kill you." "This caused the nurses on the floor to run and barricade themselves inside a locked room out of fear," police said

Resisting Arrest

Pair of handcuffs sitting on a wooden desk

Police arrived at the hospital at 8 pm to find a scene of utter chaos. Carrabba was violent towards the police officers, throwing coffee at them, kicking and scratching them, and resisting arrest. He was finally captured and has since been charged with criminal mischief, terroristic threats, assault on a police officer, and resisting arrest. Officers found he had destroyed scanners, monitors, and even pieces of the floor to the tune of $6,225 before being taken into custody.

The Hospital Releases a Statement

CHI Health St. Francis hospital/Facebook

The Nebraska Hospital Association issued an official statement on the day after the incident. 

"Our hearts are with those affected by this horrific event," said Jeremy Nordquist, president of the NHA. "This kind of hospital violence is unfortunately on the increase in our hospitals across the state and the NHA is committed to doing everything we can to reverse this dangerous trend and protect our health care heroes." According to police, Carrabba was soon back in hospital after being transported to Mary Lanning Healthcare in Hastings for treatment.

An Epidemic of Violence


Violence against healthcare workers is unfortunately on the rise in the US. "Workplace violence against nurses has been going on for decades," says Michelle Mahon, RN, nursing practice representative for National Nurses United, in an interview with The American Journal of Managed Care (AJMC). "A physician heard a nurse being verbally abused by a patient. She walked up to the nurse, put her hand on her shoulder, and asked her if she was OK. The nurse shrugged it off and said that it happens all the time."

Zero Tolerance

Aggressive man yelling at nurse in clinic.

Many US states are working on legislation that would make it a felony to attack healthcare workers. "There is nothing more important to us than the safety and security of our employees and our patients. Workplace violence in any form – physical, verbal, non-verbal or emotional – is unacceptable, and we will not tolerate this behavior," says Warner Thomas, president and CEO of Ochsner Health. "Workplace violence against healthcare workers has been escalating throughout the pandemic and has reached a point that legislation needs to be considered to make this violence a felony. This consideration under review by a Louisiana task force comes as U.S. hospitals grapple with an increase in disruptive or violent incidents in hospitals — many involving hostile visitors – adding further stress to the healthcare workplace."

Ferozan Mast
Ferozan Mast is a science, health and wellness writer with a passion for making science and research-backed information accessible to a general audience. Read more
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