A Connecticut caregiver was among those who participated at an Occupational Safety and Health Administration public meeting in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday. The meeting was about preventing violence in hospitals and healthcare settings.
Helene Andrews, a registered nurse from Danbury Hospital, joined other healthcare advocates to call for a federal workplace violence standard to protect caregivers and their patients.
According to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, healthcare and social service workers are twice as likely to be assaulted at work as those in other occupations. A coalition of labor unions petitioned the secretary of the U.S. Department of Labor in July, 2016 to issue a comprehensive workplace violence prevention standard.
Andrews was assaulted and injured on the job in 2009.
Andrews handed a 25-year-old psychiatric patient at Danbury Hospital his medication and a cup of water, but without warning, the patient became viciously violent. He punched her with his full strength in the jaw, knocking her to the floor. The impact shattered her left leg at the hip.
She was cleared to go back to work after weeks of intensive rehabilitation and six months of physical therapy. Andrews says staff was not consistently alerted to patients with violent histories. Danbury Hospital was cited by OSHA in 2010, and took steps to prevent a similar assault from happening. Connecticut also enacted laws to prevent workplace violence.