COLUMBUS, OH ‒ A Columbus children’s hospital failed to protect employees — including nurses and mental health professionals — from patients whose bites, kicks, punches and other assaults caused serious injuries, a U.S. Department of Labor investigation has found.

Responding to a complaint of unsafe working conditions, investigators with the department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration opened an investigation in November 2022 at the Big Lots Behavioral Health Pavilion at Nationwide Children’s Hospital.

OSHA determined the facility did not protect its employees from violent incidents involving the hospital’s patients in which nurses and mental health staff suffered concussions, lacerations, contusions and sprains. The agency also learned the facility failed to keep proper records of employee injuries as required.

“Behavioral healthcare workers can be exposed to risks when treating patients who suffer with conditions that can lead to violent outbursts,” explained OSHA Area Director Larry Johnson in Columbus, Ohio. “Unfortunately, Nationwide Children’s Hospital failed to take the necessary precautions that could have prevented their employees from being injured.”

OSHA issued citations to the facility for one serious violation and one other-than-serious violation and proposed $18,000 in penalties.

The Big Lots Behavioral Health Pavilion at Nationwide Children’s Hospital provides acute behavioral health services with intensive outpatient programs. The second largest pediatric hospital in the U.S., Nationwide Children’s Hospital accepts more than 1.5 million patient visits each year at 68 facilities across Ohio and around the world. It employs about 12,000 hospitals and 1,000 medical staff.

The company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

Learn more about OSHA’s guidelines for Preventing Workplace Violence in Healthcare.

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