Report to OSHA: Pa. clinic overlooks worker safety

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 2, 2013 at 10:55 am •  Published: January 2, 2013
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PITTSBURGH (AP) — Violence prevention efforts at a Pittsburgh psychiatric clinic where a gunman shot six people last year focus too much on patients and not enough on employee safety, a consultant hired by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration found.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (http://bit.ly/ZbEBoW ) on Wednesday reported the findings by Jane Lipscomb, a professor at the University of Maryland Nursing School who was paid nearly $31,000 by OSHA to review workplace violence at the Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic. That's where mentally ill gunman John Shick killed one worker and wounded five others before he was fatally shot by University of Pittsburgh campus police on March 8.

"WPIC's workplace violence prevention efforts are completely overshadowed by patient safety considerations," Lipscomb found, though she acknowledged "a number of initiative(s) designed to protect patients also infer staff safety."

Still, she concluded, "WPIC's management commitment to violence prevention is obscured by their nearly singular focus on patient safety."

The newspaper obtained the consultant's draft report, dated Aug. 31, through the federal Freedom of Information Act.

University of Pittsburgh Medical Center spokeswoman Gloria Kreps said the hospital network disagrees with the consultant's suggestion that worker safety is overlooked and said UPMC strives to "protect the rights and safety of everyone in our facilities, including patients, staff and visitors."

Kreps noted that OHSA didn't cite the hospital network for safety violations after the shooting, though the agency did issue a letter advising UPMC how to better prevent workplace violence.

"All those recommendations either have been or are being implemented," Kreps said. UPMC is spending about $10 million to upgrade security at the hospital.

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