News Release

US Department of Labor finds Northern Arizona VA Healthcare System again failed to protect employees from serious, potentially deadly patient violence

OSHA cited the Bob Stump VA Medical Center in 2019 for similar violations

PRESCOTT, AZ – For the second time in four years, federal investigators have determined a Prescott veterans’ medical center failed to protect healthcare workers from unit residents who kicked, bit, struck, punched, slapped and sexually harassed them.

In December 2023, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration initiated an investigation into claims that Northern Arizona VA Healthcare System’s Bob Stump VA Medical Center again exposed nurses, nursing assistants and housekeeping staff to patient violence. Federal regulations require employers to provide a workplace free of hazards that are causing or are likely to cause employees to suffer serious physical harm or worse. 

Under Executive Order 12196, federal agencies must comply with the same safety and health standards as private sector employers covered under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970. By law, federal agencies are generally exempt from OSHA violations and penalties; instead government employers are issued notices of unsafe and unhealthful working conditions and required to demonstrate they have abated hazards. Had the facility been a private sector employer, the agency could have assessed penalties up to $161,323.

“Healthcare industry workers encounter workplace violence up to four times more often than people employed in private industry,” said OSHA Area Director Zachary Barnett in Phoenix, Arizona. “The failure of the Bob Stump VA Medical Center to prevent the same dangers that existed in 2019 is troubling. The facility’s management must take immediate action to better protect its employees from workplace violence before someone is seriously hurt or even killed in an incident that they could have prevented.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that people employed in hospitals fall victim to non-fatal workplace assaults at a rate of 8.3 per 10,000 workers, significantly higher than 2.0 per 10,000 workers’ rate for those employed in all private sector industries.

Learn more about worker safety in hospitals and review “Guidelines for Preventing Workplace Violence for Healthcare and Social Service Workers.”

Occupational Safety & Health Administration
July 2, 2024
Release Number
Media Contact: Michael Petersen
Media Contact: Jose Carnevali
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