A surge in crystal meth-related violence in Manitoba hospitals has nurses concerned.

It comes as frontline workers and police notice a spike in meth use in Winnipeg and across the province.

"Nurses have become sort of inured to these kind of incidents,” said Manitoba Nurses Union president Sandi Mowat. “It happens more frequently than we'd like it to happen and shouldn't be happening."

"We want to make sure the patients are kept safe and the staff is kept safe as well so we do need to be more cognizant of these issues."

Mowat said nurses working with patients high on meth have faced aggressive, threatening and at times violent behaviour.

She said in November an aggressive patient hit an ER nurse working at Concordia Hospital with a garbage can

But the latest concern stems from a recent increase in violent incidents at Brandon Regional Health Centre.

BRHC chief operating officer Brian Schoonbaert said the hospital has noticed an increased number of patients coming to the emergency room under the influence of drugs, exhibiting violent behaviour.

"We've had pushing and shoving, those types of things, but it's more than that, too,” said Schoonbaert. “It's verbal. It could be spitting, it could be biting."

In response, he said a security officer has been moved to Brandon's ER waiting room in the evening to help deal with potential violent situations.

Schoonbaert said health officials are also working on implementing a workplace violence prevention program and that they plan on doing drills with staff to practice what to do in the case of a violent incident.

The Winnipeg Regional Health Authority said crystal meth is a contributing factor to hospital violence.

“While the reports of staff injury across the region remain low, we are aware this is something that is under-reported and we will work with the sites to monitor the situation closely,” said WRHA spokesperson Bronwyn Penner-Holigroski. “The emergency, mental health, primary care and public health programs continue to work with Manitoba Health towards appropriate solutions for this growing problem and determine the best way to promote the safety and recovery of these patients as we enter phase 2 of consolidation.”

The Manitoba government said it’s working on developing a mental and addiction strategy and that recommendations should be made in the coming months.