Workers at a Washington state healthcare facility went on a safety strike Aug. 1 after a dangerous event involving a violent patient, according to the Federal Way Mirror. The incident at Cascade Behavioral Health hospitalized one worker, injured others and threatened the safety of other patients. It started when an unruly patient stole a security badge, giving him access to offices, which he then damaged. Eleven of the 15 staff members who attempted to control the patient were injured, with four sent to the emergency room due to severe injuries. One staff member was taken to the hospital on a stretcher and put on oxygen.
Hospital staff members on strike have critiqued the behavioral health center by saying it does not have sufficient staff or security cameras. The last year has been particularly bad since the facility became a majority involuntary center, with many patients who have been convicted of violent crimes. There are about nine patients to every one staff member, and according to staff members, violent encounters with patients are not uncommon. The health center’s union workers demand security staff and that enhanced safety measures be enforced. The staff members on strike plan to withhold their labor until demands are sufficiently met.
Violence against healthcare workers is becoming more common. While 75 percent of nearly 25,000 workplace assaults occur annually in healthcare settings, only 30 percent of nurses and 26 percent of emergency department physicians have reported incidents of violence, according to the American Journal of Managed Care.
Workplace violence in certain healthcare settings is often considered a part of the job by employees. Generally, there are four types of workplace violence. The first type is by perpetrators who don’t have any affiliation with the workplace or employees. The second type is by a customer or patient of the workplace. The third type is by a current or former employee of the workplace. The fourth type happens when the offender has a personal relationship with the employee, but not the workplace. The second type is usually what happens in healthcare facilities. The government has taken initiatives to help protect employees in the healthcare field, but advocacy groups have stressed that more meaningful changes are needed.