Nurse Attacked at ECMC

September 21, 2010 Updated Sep 21, 2010 at 5:25 PM EDT

By Ginger Geoffery

September 21, 2010 Updated Sep 21, 2010 at 5:25 PM EDT

For the second time in the last five weeks a nurse is attacked by a patient at the Erie County Medical Center in Buffalo.
The latest attack happened Sunday afternoon although hospital administrators are not releasing many details.

"I'm not sure it'd be fair to any of the parties involved to start talking about it until we're real clear about what happened," says Robert McCartney, V.P. of Behavioral Health for ECMC.

ECMC is still investigating the incident and sources tell Eyewitness News the attack happened on the 11th floor in the psychiatric unit with the nurse suffering minor injuries. This follows another attack about a month ago at the hospital. In that case a patient allegedly punched a nurse in the head, choked her, and hit her with a telephone causing serious injuries. After that attack ECMC made some changes.

"In the last month we've added more staff and we've also added 24 hours security on the floors and in addition to that we are continuing to move forward on the development of our more intensive care program for patients who are more agitated, more aggressive," says McCartney.

Within the next two weeks ECMC also plans to implement an enhanced "panic alarm" system. "Those involved with drug patient care on the unit will carry a panic alarm button with them and when they push the button the alarm will sound at the nurses station and then immediately in our police station here at ECMC," explains McCartney.

Hospital administrators say the need for increased security measures is not unique to ECMC or even hospitals in general.
"If you look throughout the whole country, you look in our schools, you look in workplace, you are seeing an increase in violence everywhere," says McCartney.

McCartney says the hospital is working closely with the nurses unions on improving safety. Eyewitness News reached out to the nurses unions for comment for this story but we had not heard back from them as of Tuesday evening.