The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has fined Brookdale University Hospital and Medical Center, a 790-bed hospital in New York, $78,000 over dozens of incidents in which patients and visitors assaulted employees. One of the most egregious events left a nurse with severe brain injuries.
Brookdale called that incident a tragedy and emphasized, in a statement, that “workplace violence is a challenge that all healthcare institutions around New York and the country face.”
Patient and visitor violence is one reason hospitals rank among the most hazardous places to work. According to an OSHA report released last fall, there are 6.8 work-related injuries and illnesses for every 100 full-time hospital employees—a rate that puts hospitals ahead of other industries, including manufacturing and construction.
At Brookdale, OSHA found 40 instances of violence from patients and visitors between February and April. Hospital employees faced several forms of physical violence. For example, one patient tripped an employee, injuring the employee's left knee, arms and hands, requiring two days away from work.
The most serious incident noted in OSHA's citation occurred in February. A patient on the Brooklyn hospital's fifth floor attacked a nurse and repeatedly kicked her in the head, which led to brain damage and “life-threatening injuries.” —Bob HermanFollow Bob Herman on Twitter: @MHbherman