Duke Health 'redouble' security efforts to protect healthcare workers

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ByCindy Bae via WTVD logo
Friday, July 29, 2022
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Duke Health is continuing their efforts to protect staff after a patient is accused of physically assaulting an employee at Duke Raleigh Hospital on Thursday.

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Duke Health is continuing their efforts to protect staff after a patient is accused of physically assaulting an employee at Duke Raleigh Hospital on Thursday.

Stanley Scarboro, 41, is facing criminal charges after the early morning attack.

"The incident is under investigation and hospital staff are being provided support," Duke Health officials said.

The latest violence comes after a man was shot and killed earlier this year at Duke University Hospital. The fatal shooting happened when a man took a Duke University police officer's gun and was shot during a struggle. No patients or hospital staff were injured.

The escalating incidents of violence in health care settings nationwide has Duke Health redoubling their security efforts, including putting up signage next week that says aggressive behavior will not be tolerated.

Courtesy of DukeHealth

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"We teach de-escalation techniques, we have panic buttons," executive vice president and chief operating officer Dr. Craig Albanese said. "We have a security force 24/7 and metal detectors in the emergency departments."

But as federal data shows, health care workers experience the highest rates of injuries caused by workplace violence, the North Carolina Healthcare Association discussed how the COVID-19 pandemic adds to it.

"I think national tensions are just high all over the place," NCHA's Cody Hand said. "You see it at restaurants, you see it in parks. It shouldn't happen at a hospital where you're there to receive care."

In 2015, North Carolina passed a bill that makes it a felony to assault healthcare workers. But although the bipartisan bill S.L. 2015-97 seemed like a good solution at the time, it hasn't been enforced uniformly, according to Hand.

"So, health care workers really have no legal remedy unless that law is enforced," Hand said.

A bill, known as the SAVE Act, was introduced in Congress in June that would provide federal protections for healthcare and hospital workers.

"That would make assault on a health care worker, similar to assault on an airline employee, a federal offense, and we think that's a really good start," Hand said. "We think that these assaults have got to stop, and our elected officials and our judicial officials have to enforce the laws and make sure these assailants pay for their crime."

For Duke Health, executive vice president and chief operating officer Dr. Craig Albanese said any risk is unacceptable.

"I would classify our efforts as continuous assessment, continuous improvement," Albanese said. "Most importantly, we ask our team members "Do you feel safe?"

Albanese said employees don't have to immediately go back to work after being involved in a violent incident.

"We have a lot of support services for them, on site, remote, by telehealth, however, whatever is needed and only when they are recovered, either physically or mentally, and they are ready," Albanese said.