OSHA: Texas Children's failed to protect behavioral health workers from patient assault

Texas Children's Hospital in Houston has been cited by the Labor Department's Occupational Health and Safety Administration for failing to protect employees from physical assaults by aggressive patients.

Last year, there were 15 "recordable" incidents where visibly aggressive patients attacked employees who work with behavioral health patients, OSHA said in a copy of the citation, according to the Houston Chronicle

The agency, in a May 10 news release, specifically references an incident from Nov. 10, 2022, in which it says an aggressive patient "pulled a security officer to the ground by the hair and kicked them repeatedly in the chest and abdomen. The officer, who was responding to an alert, lost consciousness, was taken to the emergency room and hospitalized."

OSHA said an investigation found that Texas Children's had inadequate policies and procedures to protect employees from physical assaults by patients who showed violent behavior during medical surveillance and treatment. Nurses and patient care assistants are among workers who were exposed to physical threats and assaults, the agency said in the citation, according to the Houston Chronicle.

A Texas Children's spokesperson shared the following statement with Becker's: "The safety of the employees, faculty and patients remains a key priority at Texas Children's Hospital and we are very proud of our efforts to provide a safe workplace. We are actively engaged in dialogue with OSHA and disagree with the initial findings released by OSHA. Texas Children's has strong safety protocols and training procedures in place and we are constantly optimizing our processes to ensure a safe environment."

OSHA has proposed penalties of $15,625. Employers have 15 working days from the date they receive a citation to contest, according to the agency's website.

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