After stabbing, nurses say SSM ignored pleas for security: 'This was 100% preventable'

Current and former nurses at Bridgeton, Mo.-based SSM Health DePaul Hospital claim leaders repeatedly ignored pleas to ramp up security at the facility, where two employees were stabbed July 11, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

The nurses, who spoke under the condition of anonymity, said staff members have for years asked hospital administrators to add more security guards and metal detectors to prevent workplace violence against healthcare employees. Nurses said they were not surprised when they heard a patient allegedly stabbed a nurse and paramedic in the hospital's emergency department this week, citing frequent instances of patients physically and verbally assaulting employees, according to the report. 

"[SSM] had all the warnings they could possibly need. This was 100 [percent] preventable," said one SSM nurse who no longer works at the hospital. "When you're working at DePaul, you're literally walking down the halls looking over your shoulder."

In a statement to the Becker's, St. Louis-based SSM Health said it has a zero-tolerance policy for violence and aggression and that it takes the safety of its staff, patients and visitors seriously. The 23-hospital system said it is evaluating security measures at the hospital and seeking input from employees to improve safety.

"SSM Health has on-site security officers, state-of-the-art video surveillance and access control systems in our emergency departments — and our policies and training regarding workplace violence reflect national best practices," the health system said. "Sadly, violence against healthcare workers is a national crisis impacting all hospitals and health systems."

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