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Violence at work threatens psychiatric health care workers

A study regarding the frequency of assaults on the nursing staff at John George Psychiatric Hospital in California has raised concern among authorities and personnel. The union that represents health care workers at the facility is renewing the call for safer work environments following publication of the new data released by the public hospital authority that handles the management of the facility. The study covered incidents involving assaults on staff members from May 2018 through the end of April 2019.

Most of the incidents cited involved patients attacking workers. Along with being punched, kicked and slapped, health care workers are also spat on, scratched, bitten and pulled by the hair. Although the records contain no identifying names, the times that assaults happened and the section of the hospitals at which each incident occurred were studied, along with whether a co-worker or a patient was the aggressor and the level of physical force that was used.

Despite various safety measures, incidents like the one that happened on Sept. 13, 2017 continue to happen. In that instance, a nurse was punched in the face by a patient who then continued the beating. When the nurse fell to the floor, the patient proceeded to slam his head into the floor repeatedly. The nurse suffered fractured facial bones, a seizure and a subsequent stroke that compromised his short-term memory.

Until authorities can establish safety standards that will provide better protection for health care workers in psychiatric hospitals in California, assaults will likely continue to occur. Victims of attacks can file workers' compensation benefits claims. An attorney who has experience in helping health care workers to obtain maximum compensation can provide valuable assistance throughout ensuing legal and administrative proceedings.

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