Healthcare News & Insights

Why hospitals need to worry about all types of safety

Just because a hospital’s doing well in one aspect of its performance doesn’t mean it’s got all the bases covered. One New Jersey facility recently praised for its success in keeping patients safe, learned that lesson the hard way. 

large-hospital-buildingAccording to a news release, Bergen Regional Medical Center in Paramus was cited by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for failing to keep its workers safe from workplace violence.

Bergen Regional Medical Center primarily serves patients with behavioral health issues, acting as a safety net for elderly, underinsured and mentally ill patients.

In a five-month period from February to June, the facility had eight reported incidents of violence toward employees, which came to light after an OSHA investigation sparked by a worker’s complaint.

Problems included patients trapping employees in a hospital room, serious threats and exposure to bloodborne pathogens, according to the news release.

Workers were also bitten, kicked and punched by patients. In one instance, a nurse received bruises and a laceration after trying to keep a patient from being attacked.

OSHA ended up citing Bergen Regional for not reporting injuries correctly using the OSHA 300A form. The agency also commented on the facility’s inability to protect its workers from experiencing violence from patients – and OSHA strongly suggested that Bergen Regional needs to revamp its workplace violence program.

Even worse, the hospital’s now facing a fine of $13,600.

While only eight incidents of violence are on record, the problem could be more far-reaching since it’s possible employees might not have reported other violent incidents involving patients.

Accolades for patient safety

This turn of events is surprising for a hospital that was just lauded for its low readmission and infection rates. In fact, it was touted as one of the “safest area hospitals” because of its efforts in preventing patients from contracting C. diff and MRSA.

Bergen Regional got one of the highest scores for C. diff and MRSA prevention in Consumer Reports’ recent analysis of hospital safety. In fact, only 6 percent of hospitals in the entire country scored as well as Bergen Regional did in the analysis, according to a press release in the Paramus Post.

And per an article from NJ Spotlight, it was the only hospital in the state of New Jersey that wasn’t punished by the Centers from Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) for having excessive readmission rates.

Takeaway for hospitals

It’s clear Bergen Regional’s made some impressive strides with improving patient safety – but the hospital still has a long way to go with keeping its own workers safe.

The saga of Bergen Regional gives a good lesson to hospitals: No matter how well you’re doing, there’s always more to be done. So while it’s great to pat yourself on the back for successes, it’s also important to look at every aspect of your hospital’s performance to shore up any weak spots.

And if you haven’t examined your workplace safety protocol in a while, it may be time to give your policies a closer look.

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