Attack on nurse at Abbotsford hospital was one of several violent incidents this year, report says

Hospital failed to report task in ‘timely manner,’ WorkSafe BC says

The Abbotsford Regional Hospital (ARH) medical unit where a patient seriously injured a nurse in September had been the site of at least two other violent incidents that were serious enough to require a WorkSafeBC report, according to documents obtained by The News.

The same documents say the hospital contravened provincial occupational safety rules by failing to immediately report the attack, as required by law.

Early in the morning of Sept. 24, a patient in the Baker 2 ward at ARH attacked a nurse with a dumbbell, striking her in the face and leaving her with a broken jaw, fractured cheekbone and other serious injuries.

According to the WorkSafeBC inspection report, the patient had been hiding behind a curtain before he attacked the nurse as she entered his room to check on him. The daughter of the man charged in the attack told The News in September that the man had been in the midst of a psychotic break and had already tried to attack his wife and other health care workers.

Neale Heath has since been charged with aggravated assault.

Despite rules requiring employers to immediately report serious injuries and fatalities to WorkSafeBC, Fraser Health did not tell the agency until 9:30 a.m., seven and a half hours after the incident.

RELATED: ‘This should never have happened:’ BCNU president says attack on nurse was preventable

RELATED: Daughter of patient charged in Abbotsford nurse attack says she warned hospital of danger

That amounted to a failure to report the incident in a “timely fashion,” according to the incident report, which was obtained by The News through a Freedom of Information request. “This reporting should occur as part of the employers’ response at the time of the incident,” the report says.

Fraser Health is now required to account for its actions and show how they’ll comply with WorkSafeBC’s requirements. The health authority has been given extra time to respond because of the complexity of the investigation into the attack. The partially redacted WorksafeBC document says Fraser Health has interviewed more than 30 people about the incident and fully reviewed the patient’s chart.

A Fraser Health spokesperson said in an email that the agency’s priority after the September attack was to get the patient help and secure the site.

“We … have been working in partnership with the BC Nurses’ Union and our teams to review the importance of timely reporting.”

Fraser Health has also been working “since the incident in September to further enhance the safety and security of the hospital including additional safety inspections around risks related to violence and education regarding violence prevention.”

Christine Sorensen, the president of the BC Nurses’ Union, says Fraser Health will be sending a report to WorkSafe BC shortly. She said the union has been working “very collaboratively” with the health authority and that she hopes the report will reflect the security and safety actions recommended by the union and its nurses.

Sorensen said she also recently met with provincial Health Minister Adrian Dix and provided a list of 22 “high risk” locations that should be staffed with security officers that have more education and training than is currently provided to most security officers. Sorensen said she is frustrated by a lack of action by the government in dealing with the safety of nurses.

“I’ve really seen very little action from the provincial government in addressing violence in health care.”

The nurse who was attacked continues to recover, and can’t currently speak while her jaw mends. Sorensen said the nurse has been told her injuries will affect her for the rest of her life, and that she is uncertain about returning to work.

“This has been a very traumatic event for her,” Sorensen said. “She’s really quite scared about going back to work.”

Sorensen said other workers at Abbotsford Regional Hospital are also dealing with the psychological impact of the attack, including two who are dealing with post-traumatic stress.

The News obtained a separate inspection report from August that catalogued at least six violent incidents at ARH to that point of 2019. Two of those incidents reportedly occurred in the Baker 2 ward where September’s serious assault took place. Two more occurred in the emergency department, and two others took place in the cardiac care unit.

Those statistics prompted WorkSafe BC to initiate a partial “high risk strategy” inspection of the cardiac care unit, which has 24 patients and operates with seven nurses and two additional staffers. That inspection did not result in any remedial orders for the hospital.

It’s unclear how many violent incidents actually get reported to WorkSafeBC. Other documents obtained by The News suggest most acts of abuse directed against nurses at ARH do not result in WorkSafeBC investigations. And Sorensen said Thursday that, when she visited the hospital in September, she heard that violence occurs “nearly every day.”

Watch The News for more in the weeks to come.

Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email:
tolsen@abbynews.com


@ty_olsen
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Abbotsford Police Chief Mike Serr provides an overview of the detachment’s year during the annual Crime is Toast breakfast, which this year was held online.
2020 has been a challenging year, says Abbotsford Police chief

Mike Serr provides annual overview during virtual Crime is Toast breakfast

MacDonald tweeted out this photo shortly after being sprayed with bear-mace in 2015.
THROWBACK VIDEO: Fifth anniversary of Abbotsford cameraman’s bear-mace attack

Retired ‘Abby Newshound’ Kevin MacDonald reflects on notorious incident back in 2015

RCMP officers cleared in killing of Abbotsford homeless advocate

Barry Shantz was shot following a mental health crisis at his home on on Jan. 13, 2020,

Rosedale man sees significant spike in BC Hydro bill after purchasing electrical vehicle

An increase should be expected, but Brian Chwiendacz experienced a 200-plus per cent hike

Abbotsford singer releases sequel to earlier 2020 release

Musician Ben Cottrill releases Velvet Regrets, Vol. 2

167 new COVID-19 cases, 1 death recorded as B.C. enters 2nd wave

Three new healthcare outbreaks also announced

Brody Peterson said he intends to dispute tickets issued by Grand Forks RCMP at his backyard “house warming” Saturday, Oct. 10. Photo: Laurie Tritschler
Brody Peterson told The Gazette he intends to dispute tickets issued by Grand Forks RCMP at his backyard “house warming” Saturday, Oct. 10. Photo: Laurie Tritschler
Grand Forks RCMP recommend criminal charges after weekend party

Homeowner Brody Peterson said he’ll dispute tickets for refusing police instructions, alleged COVID violations

A glimpse of some of the 480 (approx) cars written off as a result of the acid spills along the Trail highway in 2018. Photo: Trail Times
Kootenay Ford dealer’s frustration grows with ICBC

Trail AM Ford owner Dan Ashman says he just wants fair compensation from ICBC

Mail-in ballot from Elections BC (Katya Slepian/Black Press Media)
At least 26% of eligible voters have already cast their ballot, Elections BC says

Voters can cast a ballot until 8 p.m PST on Election Day

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

RCMP were called to an assault in the 23700-block of 110 Ave in Maple Ridge Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2020. (Curtis Kreklau/Special to The News)
PHOTOS: Assault in Maple Ridge sends three men to hospital

RCMP were called to a residence Tuesday night

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A 2018 decision to fly a rainbow flag ended up costing the City of Langley $62,000 in legal fees (Langley Advance Times file)
Human rights win in rainbow flag fight cost B.C. city $62,000

“Lengthy and involved” process provoked by complaint

Most Read