Testimony given before OSHA Board of the California State Legislature:
My name is Richard Webb. I am a Registered Nurse. I work for the psychiatric emergency room at Olive View Medical Center. I wanted to talk to you briefly about how this legislation can help create a safer work environment for myself and my coworkers. As you can imagine, in the psychiatric emergency room we care for some of the most dangerous and unpredictable patients imaginable. At the end of the day, we want to do our jobs and be able to come home safely to our families and come back to work the next day.
Unfortunately, management does not always do all it can to ensure this happens. For one, they leave us chronically short-staffed when it is proven that being short-staffed leads to increased risk of injury. Also, we should have a sheriff on-site 24/7. Our urgent care down the street has one and we do not, even though we have more acute patients and a higher census.
An example of a time this led to a staff injury was a few weeks ago when a psychiatrist informed one of our patients they would be spending another night in our unit. The patient became agitated and attacked the doctor. Due to us being short-staffed, there was only one nurse in the room. He attempted to intervene. The patient wrestled him to the ground and bit a golf-ball sized chunk of flesh out of his shoulder. If that wasn’t bad enough, the patient was Hepatitis C positive. The nurse is still waiting to find out if he contracted Hep C from this incident.
When I helped file an incident report with Nursing Administration, I informed them that I believed one of the causes of this incident was us being short-staffed. The next day my manager approached me and told me, “Why are you stirring up trouble? Did you think this through? Are you sure you want to go against me?” This sort of bullying and threatening behavior is unacceptable from our management.
This legislation will help us reduce workplace violence and lessen threatening behaviors from management. At the end of the day, we care about our patients, but we care about our families too. We want to come home to them safely after work. I believe this legislation will help ensure we do just that. Thank you for your time.