A gunman killed two people at his Texas home before going to a nearby nursing home and killing two others and himself in what investigators believe are related incidents, an official said.
The deaths in the Robstown area, near Corpus Christi and the Gulf of Mexico, are being investigated as murders and a suicide, Robstown city secretary Herman Rodriguez said.
Police said they first were called to a shooting at Robstown's Retama Manor Nursing Center around 7 p.m. There, they found three people dead -- a female and two males, including the shooter, police said.
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Healthcare facilites have been advised by the Joint Commission to address workplace violence against staffers.
In an alert released in April, the accrediting body warns healthcare to take seven steps to address the workplace violence. They say hospitals need to more clearly define what constitutes violence, better follow up with and support victims, and develop and assess prevention initiatives. The moves are considered recommendations but employers must take action if an employee faces violence, a Joint Commission spokeswoman said. Should it receive complaints, the Joint Commission would evaluate whether an on-site survey is needed. An unsatisfactory survey can affect accreditation status.
Dr. Ana Pujols McKee, executive vice president and chief medical officer of the Joint Commission says that "We encourage our accredited organizations to use the alert to help their healthcare workers recognize violence from patients and visitors, become prepared to handle it, and more effectively address the aftermath."
According to the accreditor's data, there have been 68 incidents of homicide, rape or assault of hospital staff members in the past eight years. OSHA (The Occupational Safety and Health Administration) has found that many violent incidents are not reported by nurses, but approximately 75% of nearly 25,000 workplace assaults reported every year occurred in healthcare and social service settings.
According to a spokeswoman, there are differences in the rates of incidents noted by the Joint Commission and OSHA differ as it's not mandatory to report workplace violence to the commission.
Healthcare employees are four times more likely to be victimized than workers in other industries, according to OSHA. Healthcare workers also are especially empathetic, and they may believe patients are not be responsible for their actions if they suffer from illness or are taking medication that affects their mental state. This can also affect morale among workers.
The Joint Commission could not say whether the incidents of violence they were made aware of led to a loss of accreditation.
Hospitals are working to address the matter both individually and as a group, according to the American Hospital Association's top lawyer.
Noting that the AHA's Hospitals Against Violence initiative is a tool available to hospitals, Hatton said "the Joint Commission's newest Sentinel Event Alert may provide an additional resource for hospitals on addressing workplace violence, namely physical and verbal violence, and its impact on employee morale, retention and well-being."
Until now, some professional associations believe they have been largely unprotected.
Cheryl Peterson, vice president of nursing programs at the American Nurses Association, said that they should remove barriers to reporting incidents.
Dr. Paul Kivela, president of the American College of Emergency Physicians, thinks it'll take stiffer penalties at both the federal and state level to really curb the problem.
Currently, legal penalties vary around the country. For instance, in West Virginia a person can face a felony charge and up to three years in jail depending on the severity of the attack against a healthcare worker. In California, an assault or battery against a provider is viewed as a misdemeanor and is punishable by up to one year of jail time for the most severe cases.
Kivela argues that medical providers should be treated similarly to other front line professionals who regularly deal with combative individuals, such as the police, where assaulting an officer is a felony and can incur up to three years in jail.
Source: Modern Healthcare