Darrin Nobis, RN, senior nursing director at OU Health Edmond Medical Center, has worked with staff to develop a safety program for nurses and health care workers facing an assaultive crisis.

Darrin Nobis, RN

Senior Nursing Director, OU Health Edmond Medical Center.

story and photo by James Coburn, Staff Writer

OU Health Edmond Medical Center has implemented a program that is lowering assaultive behavior towards nurses.
“The Purple Dot safety program is simple, effective strategies for reducing patient to caregiver violent behavior,” said Darrin Nobis, RN, senior nursing director, OU Health Edmond Medical Center.
The Joint Commission reviewed a patient’s assault on a nurse at the Edmond hospital and is promoting the Purple Dot Program nationwide.
Workplace violence is increasing nationwide, according to the National Institutes of Health. One out of every five nurses in the US experiences workplace violence at some point in their career, according to NIH.
In September of 2022 one of the nurses working nights at OU Health Edmond Medical Center was severely assaulted by a patient and sent to the ER.
So, Nobis pulled an expert team together to create the Purple Dot Program to stop future assaultive behavior within the hospital.
Today, if a nurse or hospital employee senses a potential for danger from a patient, that patient is listed as a Purple Dot Patient and a purple dot is posted on the patient’s doorway entrance and chart.
“Staff knows not to go in there alone,” Nobis said. “They use a buddy system and never turn their back on that patient. We implemented that almost immediately once we developed that program here in Edmond. And then we, since the implementation of the Purple Dot Program in Edmond have had zero assaultive events.”
OU Health University of Oklahoma Medical Center quickly adopted the program on its Oklahoma City campus and has seen a 95 percent decrease in assaultive behavior from the patients. So, it has been incredibly successful. Other hospitals are starting to adopt the program. The Joint Commission recognizes it as a best practice, Nobis said.
OU Health lists 10,000 employees. Seeing a 95 percent reduction in assaultive events has made workers feel safer. The program is also better for the patient, Nobis added.
Staff is informed to document objective observations such as verbal aggression and physically threatening behavior. Aggressors may be clenching a fist, throwing objects, shoving, or have an aggressive stance, among other behaviors.
“They may tell us, ‘I’m going to beat you up,’” Nobis said.
Staff is to notify a supervisor immediately and ensure the physician/PCP are informed. Security is contacted as well as all departments that interact with the patient. Police are notified before the patient is discharged.
“I had never had a nurse of mine beaten up. So that touched my life,” Nobis said.
Being the onsite nurse executive, he is constantly reviewing patient care, and works with cohesive teams to solve challenges.
“Our highest goal is safe patient care,” Nobis said.
Safety endures by being accurate, timely, and kind to patients, families, and one another, he continued.
“That kindness piece is often forgotten in the world in which we live, but we insist on it here and it really pays off,” he said.
OU Health Edmond Medical Center has about 400 employees with about half of them being nurses. He commends them for working hard and being detail oriented.
“Our quality scores are great and they’re really good and our patient experience scores are very strong,” he said.
Hospital acquired infections are almost nonexistent at OU Health Edmond Medical Center, Nobis said. The med/surg unit has surpassed 600 days without central line infections. Fall rates continue to decline.
Nobis said his nursing career has made him more compassionate and aware of what people experience.
“My parents are both 90 years old and they use health care more than they used to. So, that’s brought home to me what we do and how important it is. How we treat people is so incredibly important,” he said.
His trajectory in life has been altruistic.
Nobis earned his Bachelor of Science degree at the OU College of Nursing. His 34-year career has also encompassed ICU, and med/surg with inpatient care being his specialty. Nobis was director of ICU and med/surg at OU Health Edmond Medical Center at various times during the last nine years. He transitioned to the role of senior nursing director in 2022. The staff and his love of the nursing teams has kept him dedicated to OU Health for 15 years.
Nobis wakes up very excited to bring the nursing leaders together once a month to help solve challenges with them.
He has plenty of support to have fun in life with his spouse, dogs, yard work, and family including a grandson.
“He just brings me so much joy,” Nobis said.
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