The Occupational Safety and Health Administration fined Montefiore Medical Center for failing to keep workers safe in several incidents, as violence against healthcare workers continues to increase during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Montefiore will pay $17,555 over its handling of an attack on staff members. In early 2021, a psychiatric patient assaulted multiple workers during observation and during an attempted escape. OSHA said Montefiore had not developed and implemented adequate measures to protect employees from recurring serious hazards, and for not recording injuries properly.
"We are in the process of responding to OSHA's claims; certainly the health and safety of our staff and patients are our highest priority," a Montefiore spokesperson said.
The latest fine serves as a reminder for other providers that rigorous workplace violence prevention plans are a requirement by regulatory and accreditation bodies.
Violence against healthcare workers has increased over the past decade, and hospitals say it's only gotten worse during the pandemic.
While regulatory bodies like OSHA serve as a last stop for enforcing a safe workplace, other groups like the American Hospital Association and the Joint Commission have taken steps to help hospital leaders ensure workplace safety.
"Building a safer workplace in your hospital begins with the CEO," said American Hospital Association Senior Vice President and Chief Nursing Officer Robyn Begley. "Of course, some of the work can be delegated, but it really does need to be strongly promoted and led by them: what is important to the CEO is important to every other leader in an organization, and by prioritizing safety in the workplace, it's also putting resources toward it."
Those resources can include providing staff with tools like covert safety button that alerts nearby staff and security, like Cooperstown, New York-based Bassett Healthcare Network did last year. Last year, the AHA collaborated with a healthcare security and safety group to develop guidelines for hospitals, that include things like providing trauma support to affected staff, violence intervention strategies, creating a culture of safety and reporting and mitigating risks.
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