October 30, 2023

Virginia Mason Under Investigation For Workplace Violence, WA Nurses Association Complaint

Virginia Mason Under Investigation For Workplace Violence, WA Nurses Association Complaint

In a significant development, the Washington State Nurses Association (WSNA) has lodged a formal complaint with the Washington Department of Labor and Industries, urging a thorough investigation into the escalating issue of workplace violence against nurses at Virginia Mason Franciscan Health.

According to the complaint, "Virginia Mason has failed to provide a workplace free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause serious injury or death,' as evidenced by a recurring pattern of violent incidents. The nurses at Virginia Mason report that they regularly feel unsafe at work, with numerous accounts of nurses being attacked by patients or witnessing violence against their colleagues."

Violent Incidents Against Nurses

Several distressing incidents serve as examples of the escalating problem, as reported by WSNA:

  • In September 2022, a nurse narrowly escaped a hammer attack by a patient, resulting in damage to the facility's infrastructure.

  • On July 11, 2023, a patient's spouse was found in possession of a firearm after displaying unruly behavior.

  • On July 12, 2023, a nurse was stabbed by a patient using a metal butter knife, necessitating an emergency department visit.

  • On July 18, 2023, a nurse reported being bitten by a patient.

  • On Oct. 21, 2023, a nurse had to intervene in a violent altercation between a patient care technician and a patient, struggling to free the technician from a chokehold, which led to the nurse being thrown against a wall. It is concerning that it took approximately 15-20 minutes for security to respond in this critical situation, despite the absence of any dedicated security personnel on-site.

WSNA Complaint Letter

The WSNA asserts that Virginia Mason is falling short in meeting both the broader workplace violence standards and the specific requirements associated with healthcare settings. This complaint marks a critical step towards improving the safety and well-being of nurses and healthcare staff at Virginia Mason Franciscan Health.

Read the full complaint letter here. 

Virginia Mason Statement

Nurse.org contacted Virginia Mason for remarks, here is the statement they provided: 

“Our nursing staff play an invaluable role in caring for patients, and we recognize the challenges they experience as part of our frontline teams. Virginia Mason Franciscan Health is committed to ensuring a safe and high-quality workplace for our dedicated employees. We address any safety issues immediately as they occur and involve law enforcement as needed for escalations. We continuously work to ensure a secure environment is provided for everyone.” - Kelly Campbell, Division Vice President, Marketing and Communications, Virginia Mason Franciscan Health

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