Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Hospitals Fined Over Failure to Protect Staff From Violent Patients

Two California psychiatric hospitals are facing substantial fines for their failure to protect staff from patient violence. According to the Los Angeles Times, California's Occupational Safety and Health Administration is levying fines of $57,400 against Patton State Hospital and $38,555 against Atascadero State Hospital, citing inadequate staff protections against injuries that have led to an average of 20 patient-caused staff injuries a month at Patton and eight such injuries a month at Atascadero since January 2007. The state agency's report says these injuries include "severe head trauma, fractures, contusions, lacerations, and bites." Both hospitals' alarm systems were said to be grossly inadequate. Two years ago the state's Napa State Hospital was in the news when a psychiatric technician was killed on the grounds. The state Department of Mental Health is contesting the fines.

In response to instances of violence by patients in California's state hospitals, the Times reported that state legislator Sam Blakeslee introduced a bill to "keep drug users with temporary psychosis out of the facilities" and a second bill that would make it a felony for "mentally disordered offenders"—former state prisoners with mental illness who are deemed too dangerous to be paroled—to attack a staff member.

Read about strategies that have shown success in reducing attacks by patients in Psychiatric News.

(image: Julian Rovagnati/Shutterstock.com)


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