Incidences of Assaults on Staff Increase at State Hospitals
The number of incidences of hitting, kicking and other aggressive acts against staff of Atascadero State Hospital and other state hospitals has increased over the past two years, the Los Angeles Times reports.
According to a recent review of Atascadero:
- Aggressive acts against staff have increased by 66% since 2003;
- Assaults by patients considered to be the most volatile have tripled since January 2003;
- Between July 2004 and June 2005, 374 incidents of aggressive acts on staff were reported, compared with 225 in the same period two years prior; and
- Serious injuries of staff members that require leave from work or more than first aid have increased to 81 incidents in 2005 from 61 in 2003.
At Metropolitan State Hospital, violent acts toward staff members have more than doubled, the Times reports.
Atascadero houses the state's highest proportion of patients likely to be violent, including criminal defendants acquitted by reason of insanity, parolees with mental illnesses and those who have completed parole but are deemed a public threat.
In addition, the facility is faced with patient overcrowding, and more than a quarter of its staffing positions for nurses, psychiatric technicians, psychiatrists and others are vacant, according to the Times.
Some staff members say the increase in violence can be attributed to a 2004 court ruling that granted patients the right to refuse to take psychotropic medications (Romney, Los Angeles Times, 1/8).