By Dr. Rani Srivastava, Chief of Nursing and Professional Practice, CAMH
TORONTO, July 18, 2016 - On January 12, 2014 a nurse conducting hourly rounds during the night shift was seriously injured in an incident involving a patient. Another nurse who came to her assistance was also harmed. This incident of workplace violence has had a devastating impact on all of us at CAMH.
In relation to this incident, CAMH was charged with four counts under the Occupational Health and Safety Act for not meeting an employer’s requirement to protect the health and safety of its workers. In a court appearance on July 18, 2016, CAMH pleaded guilty to one charge; specifically that it had failed to put into effect measures and procedures that were necessary in the circumstances to ensure staff performed rounds safely on the night shift. All other charges were dropped.
CAMH accepts the decision of the court with respect to the fine. We deeply regret that we failed to meet our obligations for workplace safety, and that our valued staff members were injured. At CAMH, we specialize in treating patients with complex and serious forms of mental illness, including those with behavioural, cognitive and developmental disorders. We continuously strive to maintain an environment that is safe for our staff, as well as safe and therapeutic for our patients.
CAMH and the Ministry of Labour both investigated this incident thoroughly to understand how it happened and how to ensure its prevention in the future. CAMH’s leadership worked with clinical staff to improve safety practices and protocols, including measures to ensure staff perform rounds in pairs during the night shift.
At CAMH, we are in the business of caring for people, and that includes our staff. We do not accept that acts of violence are something our staff should face. Staff safety and patient safety are inextricably linked. Providing recovery-oriented mental healthcare requires a foundation of safety and respect. To enhance safety and minimize risks, we are continuously improving our knowledge and procedures for prevention, intervention and response, working with our staff, our experts and all our partners to strengthen our comprehensive Workplace Violence Prevention Program. We are committed to being a hospital that is free of violence.