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Workers' rights to safety violated by psychiatric patient

The dangers that nurses are exposed to nationwide, including here in Colorado, are a concern of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. A recent incident at a hospital in another state has prompted OSHA to take action to address workers' rights to safety. Attacks on health care providers by patients seem to be more prevalent in psychiatric facilities.

It was reported that a 22-year-old patient was restrained and transported by ambulance after he attacked psychiatric hospital staff. During the transfer, the patient reportedly managed to free one hand from the restraints. He grabbed a nurse's ear and viciously tried to rip it off while also causing serious scratches around her eye.

Doctors reported that the nurse's ear had to be reattached with six stitches, and said the scar will be permanent. Another nurse reported that she was one of a team of three nurses that had to care for 20 patients when she was attacked in December. She is currently recovering at home on workers' compensation benefits and said the emotional trauma is still having an impact on her life.

Colorado workers' rights include the right to safe workplace environments. The expenses related to any injuries suffered while a health care worker is on duty are compensable. Benefits claims may be filed with the workers' compensation insurance system. Along with medical expenses, lost income -- based on the injured victim's wage level – may also be awarded. If a worker's injuries were caused by a third party, an experienced workers' compensation attorney could assess the circumstances to determine the viability of a third-party civil claim.

Source:, "OSHA investigates brutal attacks on Pembroke Hospital nurses", Christine McCarthy, March 8, 2016

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