Springfield ER nurse’s assault raises concerns about hospital safety

Published: Apr. 13, 2021 at 11:39 AM CDT|Updated: Apr. 13, 2021 at 12:43 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - A Springfield emergency room nurse says she was assaulted on the job.

Anna Baes has worked as a nurse in the emergency department at Mercy for nearly two years. And she enjoys her job. She recently became more aware of how dangerous it can be and frustrated at the lack of solutions.

In late February, as she was assigned to the emergency department’s psychiatric patients, she says a patient forced her up against a wall and punched her repeatedly in the head. It took multiple people, including hospital security to get the patient off of her. Anna says her head hurt, but the bigger impact has been mental. Police responded immediately. And she filed a report, but police did not arrest the patient. Her co-workers had to care for the same patient over and over again, though they protected her from having to face the same individual. She says that same person assaulted three more of her co-workers last week. Police made an arrest.

Investigators with the Springfield Police Department say it’s not necessarily the best course of action to remove a patient from a treatment facility, though they did conduct an investigation and submit a report to the prosecutor’s office in Bae’s case. Mercy says patients have extra rights and privileges, and their first response is not to call police and have the patient arrested. Often, emergency departments are forced to keep a violent patient, even days at a time, putting healthcare workers in danger.

“The sad thing is, my story is not unique,” said Baes. “Everyone in my ER came up to me afterwards and just told me their stories of when they were assaulted. Not if I was assaulted, oh this is how I would feel, it was, when I was assaulted.”

A Mercy psychiatrist says the healthcare system faces a big challenge in caring for those with intellectual and developmental disabilities becoming violent. He says there are really no facilities equipped to treat them. Proposed state legislation aims to address violence against healthcare workers, he believes the state needs another solution, or at least one facility equipped to handle violent psychiatric patients.

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