Violence Out Of Control At Brooklyn Hospital: OSHA

Monday, August 11, 2014

ambulance (Fred Mogul/WNYC)

Patients and visitors threatened, attacked or harmed workers at the Brookdale University Hospital and Medical Center in Brooklyn about 40 times from February through early April of this year, according to the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration. In the most serious case, a nurse was left brain damaged and fighting for life after a patient kicked her repeatedly in the head.

As a result of the brutal pattern of violence, OSHA this week announced a citation against Brookdale in the Brownsville neighborhood for violating federal worker safety laws and failing to protect hospital employees. OSHA deemed the behavior to be “willful” — the most severe type of violation.

This was the second time in days OSHA cited a New York City healthcare employer with a willful violation for failing to protect workers from violence. Last week, the agency cited the company that provides medical workers at Rikers Island. Nationwide, only one other employer has received such a severe citation for workplace violence in the past three years.

“Workplace violence disproportionately threatens the workers of the healthcare industry and today it remains a very difficult and dangerous problem that we are addressing,” said Kay Gee, OSHA’s area director for Brooklyn, Manhattan and Queens.

In addition to the violation for not protecting workers, OSHA also cited the hospital for a number of record-keeping violations. The agency proposed a $78,000 fine and ordered Brookdale to do more to secure its workforce.

The hospital declined an interview request. A spokesman provided a prepared statement saying Brookdale disagrees with OSHA's finding that it willfully violated regulations. “We will work through the review process available to employers to correct whatever misinformation led OSHA to issue this citation." The statement also said Brookdale has cooperated with OSHA and will continue to work with the agency to improve its safety and security.  

The hospital has long been troubled and struggled with money problems. SEIU’s 1199 — the union representing about 1,500 nurses and other workers at Brookdale — has been pushing for changes at the hospital for years, said Helen Schaub, the union’s New York State legislative and policy director.

“We’re going to continue to push them hard to do what they need to do to make sure our members can continue to deliver quality care,” Schaub said.

Workplace violence is a concern at a number of hospitals, not just Brookdale, she added. It’s been a growing problem as emergency rooms have become a dumping ground for people with mental health issues.


Julianne Welby


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Comments [3]


At the same time the scandalous misuse of public funds enriches a corrupt administration and certain members of the medical staff. All with public funds.

Aug. 18 2014 08:23 AM
EMS paramedic from New York City

The City and specifically the FDNY needs to reevaluate the policy of ambulances being forced to bring alcoholics into emergency rooms. We flood ER's citywide with drunks who are only sleeping in doorways or usually minding their own business on street corners. These people get "kidnapped" and then sober up after a few hours in the ER and become violent with staff and visitors alike. The millions spent on unreimbursed ambulance fees and Emergency room visits can be spent on detox and rehab programs. Alcoholism is a disease, and it is at pandemic levels. Worry more about that than Ebola traveling across the Atlantic Ocean.

Aug. 16 2014 05:11 PM
Leo the Lion from New York

Well done, Mr. Lewis! Keep at it

Aug. 13 2014 04:26 PM

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