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Oregon hospital struggles with patient violence

Insufficient staffing and a lack of supervision for mentally ill patients at Oregon hospitals pose hazards to everyone involved. Not only is the hospital staff put at risk, but the patients become a danger to themselves and others. Unfortunately, patient injury resulting from hospital staff negligence has recently been on the rise.

At the Oregon State Hospital campuses in Salem and Portland, nurses and union representatives are asking lawmakers for help in caring for the mentally ill. Violence at the hospital has reached new levels. The problem is attributed to having an inadequate number of staff members available to care for the patients.

So far this year, at least 66 patients and staff members have been injured by mentally ill patients at the hospital. Fifty of those incidents involved patients inflicting injuries on staff members. The hospital has made several attempts to improve the situation. Shifts have been rearranged, staff work overtime and temporary nurses have been hired. However, these solutions create new problems.

One nurse said the major problem is having too few staff members trained to cover violent incidents. She said the lack of staff and institutional knowledge about the patients is leading to an overly violent workplace. Violent incidents occur at the hospital on a daily basis.

Hospital neglect may be to blame for the substandard care of patients and injuries sustained as a result. All patients are owed a certain standard of care by medical professionals. The standard is one that represents a level of expertise, skill and care possessed by physicians in similar communities.

Fortunately, victims of hospital negligence are not without recourse. These victims may be able to bring a medical malpractice claim against the hospital, staff and other responsible parties. What is clear however, is that major changes need to be made to ensure the safety of the patients.

Source: BendBulletin.com, "Nurses at state hospitals ask for more assistance," Sept. 17, 2012

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