Island Health fined after employee stabbed in Parksville

$75,000 administrative penalty due to insufficient training, assessments

Vancouver Island Health Authority has been fined $75,000 after an employee was stabbed by a person with dementia in Parksville, according to a WorkSafeBC notice detailing the incident.

Now, Island Health says it has several initiatives underway — some existing, some new — including increased training for its employees working in home and community care.

The notice said that an Island Health employee, while working with an employee of another company, was providing health care services at a residence. But, when moving the client from a bed to a wheelchair, the client’s spouse stabbed the Island Health worker.

The spouse had dementia.

The worker sustained “serious injuries,” said the notice. A WorkSafeBC investigation found that Island Health had not sufficiently explained the degree of the spouse’s dementia to their employee. The notice goes on to say that the worker had not been supplied with sufficient training, nor a risk assessment that considered where the work would take place, and the nature of the work.

“These were repeated and high-risk violations,” reads the notice.

The $75,000 penalty was imposed Nov. 7, 2016.

“Violence in health care — this is a very serious problem that we take very, very seriously,” said Tracey Newlands, director for occupational health and safety at Island Health.

“Most people think that ‘high risk’ is only in emergency and mental health departments, but actually, we certainly have challenges in home and community care, and in residential care as well,” she said.

Now, residential care environments will be considered high risk, she said, and employees will go through mandatory online and classroom learning to work in those areas.

Newlands added that their clients are often “vulnerable folks, and our staff are doing the best to provide care, and sometimes end up in the line of fire, if you will.”