HONOLULU (KHON2) — Workers tried to file a class action lawsuit against the Hawaii State Hospital nine years ago over claims of dangerous working conditions. Their attorney said it could have made significant safety improvements, but that lawsuit couldn’t move forward.
Attorney Michael Green said he wasn’t that surprised when he heard about the fatal stabbing of a nurse Monday night. He’s heard all kinds of horror stories from the workers at the State Hospital.
“Somebody is sitting at a table, writing out reports or charts, and some patient walks up behind him and he’s got a lock in his sock to his locker and he whacks him in the back of the head,” said Green.
After talking to the staff, Green said he learned that patients who have committed violent crimes were not given any medications until they actually attacked someone in the facility. He tried to file a class action lawsuit representing more than a hundred workers.
“I get a doctor that has a concussion, somebody’s got broken bones, people that will never work again because of the injuries they have and it’s repetitive,” he said. “It goes on, it’s not like two or three people a year. It’s a multitude of people that work there.”
But he needed the patients’ medical records to succeed with the lawsuit.
“We couldn’t get the records of the patients because of HIPAA violations, so we couldn’t prove that this guy had bashed in the heads of 12 people before they sent him to the State Hospital. Why would it be unforeseeable that he would bash in the head of a nurse?” he said.
He added that the lawsuit would have made a big difference had it been able to move forward.
“My lawsuit, at least it would’ve brought some attention to a very very dangerous problem and people would’ve been evaluated when they came in and medicated,” said Green.
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KHON2 News reached out to the Hawaii Department of Health for comment and have not heard back.