Minnesota Security Hospital must pay penalty

For failing to protect workers from violence, the Minnesota Security Hospital at St. Peter must pay a $20,000 fine to the state’s […]

mark-daytonFor failing to protect workers from violence, the Minnesota Security Hospital at St. Peter must pay a $20,000 fine to the state’s Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA). The fine is one of the largest ever levied against a
state agency.

The facility is the state’s largest for psychiatric patients. It currently houses about 360 people. Workers have alleged that they were repeatedly put at risk of serious injury or even death, due to violent assaults by patients. The fine covered 10 separate violations that occurred in 2014 and 2015.

The settlement agreement leading to the fine was signed in mid-September. It also requires state officials to spend $35,980 over the next year to improve safety training or to purchase safety equipment at the hospital. This is required to be spent above and beyond what the hospital would have already spent on safety measures.

Patient-on-staff and patient-on-patient assaults have been an issue at the facility in recent years. The Minnesota Department of Human Services has taken a number of steps to quell the problems including more staff training on claiming and de-escalation techniques, more physical changes to segregate violent and non-violent patients, more staff rounds, increased security cameras and other measures. As of August 2016 there had been 32 injuries linked to aggressive patient behavior, down from 100 in 2016 and 71 in 2014.

Overall workplace injuries had reached 52 by summer’s end and could be on pace to be lower than the number of 142 reached for all of 2015.

State officials have made many changes at the hospital in recent years in operations and administration, as well as physical changes. But Gov. Mark Dayton’s $90 million plan to further improve hospital safety failed to pass during the 2016 legislative session.

In May 2014 the hospital was founded responsible after a patient was fatally injured by another patient. That tragedy
prompted state officials to extend the conditional status of the hospital’s license, to year’s end.

There have also been incident of serious staff injuries. One staff member who was slammed against a brick wall last year has been unable to return to work due to a traumatic brain injury.