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Hospital safety under scrutiny after two nurses wounded in stabbings

By Susan Abram, Los Angeles Daily News, 4/22/14

Two nurses wounded in two separate attacks at two different Los Angeles County medical centers continued to recover Monday, but their injuries further illustrate the need to improve hospital workplace safety, an association said.

“We can not stand by while nurses, other hospital staff, patients, families, and visitors are put in harms way in hospitals that fail to provide the measures that will protect their staff and the community,” said Malinda Markowitz, co-president of the California Nurses Association. “It is time for the Legislature to act.”

The association is backing a bill introduced by Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Pacoima, that would require the state’s Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board to adopt workplace violence prevention plans to protect health care workers from aggressive and violent behavior. The Senate Labor Committee is expected to hold a hearing on the bill on Thursday.

But the California Hospital Association opposes the bill, saying it is unnecessary because current law already requires hospitals to adopt and implement a comprehensive workplace violence prevention plan.

Meanwhile, a spokeswoman for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said security tapes at one of the entrances at Olive View-UCLA Medical Center in Sylmar would be reviewed and an investigation was ongoing, but no details were released on how 26-year-old Ramiro Carnallawas able to bypass a weapons screening area with a knife early Sunday morning.

Carnalla was arrested on suspicion of stabbing a nurse repeatedly inside the Sylmar hospital. His bail was set at $55,000.

Deputies and officers found him after they heard a woman scream and went to the source of the outcry, spokeswoman Lt. Denise Stephenson said in a statement.

The nurse was listed in critical but stable condition, said Olive View spokeswoman Azar Kattan.

“Everybody is really shocked about it,” Kattan said. “This is someone they’ve worked with for a long time.”

She said a full criminal investigation is underway.

“We’ve never had an incident like this on our campus,” Kattan said.“We believe this was a very random act. We have a fairly high level of security compared to most facilities.”

Kattan said Sheriff’s Deputies and private security patrol the hospital 24 hours a day, seven days a week. She said hospital officials have met with them and continue to discuss security measures and possible enhancements.

Weapon detectors were installed at all Los Angeles County hospitals after a gunman walked into the walk-in clinic at County/USC Medical Center in 1993 and shot up the facility. He wounded three doctors and held two other staff members hostage for four hours.

In a separate incident on Sunday, a second nurse was wounded about seven hours later at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center. Thomas Robert Fredette, 38, of Santee was arrested on suspicion of stabbing a nurse in the ear with a pencil.

Fredette went through a weapons screening area, officials said.

His bail was set at $130,000. His court date was set for Tuesday

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