HONOLULU (KHON2) — A deadly stabbing of a nurse at the Hawaii State Hospital is raising concerns among healthcare workers, one medical professional group said the deadly attacks in Hawaii are rare, but workplace violence is a reality many nurses face every day. 

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A murder investigation of a nurse at the Hawaii State Hospital campus brought to light the real dangers surrounding medical professionals. 

The Hawaii-American Nurses Association Executive Director Linda Beechinor said despite the attacks on nurses, many of those assaults go unreported. 

Beechinor said, “It’s very scary, very scary it is and if you talk to nurses who work in the emergency rooms they are very exposed and mental health facilities very exposed.”

A recent survey by the Hawaii State Center for Nursing said 63% of nurses who responded were verbally or physically abused by a patient or visitor in the past year. 

Nearly 1,000 nurses said they have experienced this type of abuse at least once a week. 

Beechinor said the deadly stabbing is weighing heavy among medical workers. 

Beechinor said, “How horrified and scary that is to have happened to one of our own. We hear about it happening on the mainland lots and here it is, right in a prominent healthcare environment.”

The Department of Health shared its policy and procedures for the State Operated Specialized Residential Program where officials said the stabbing took place. 

It calls for searches of a resident’s belongings upon admission and further searches if staff suspects a safety risk. 

Nowhere does it call on a search every time residents leave and return to the facility, the suspect in the investigation had in-and-out privileges, this protocol took effect in 2009. 

The Hawaii Nurses Association President Daniel Ross said this attack should be a wake-up call. 

Ross said, “I think every facility needs to tighten up and look at better ways to prevent instances of violence, violence against healthcare workers.”

Meanwhile, hospitals in the state said the safety of patients and employees remains top priority. 

The Senior Director of Corporate Communications at The Queen’s Health Systems Cedric Yamanaka said, “We have a number of security procedures in place, which include having our security teams conduct screenings in areas such as the Emergency Departments and ambulance bays.” 

The hospital has also employed a weapons detection system, caregivers are also given a personal safety device that sends out a silent alarm to security staff when it is activated. 

Hawaii Pacific Health said its medical centers also have alarm systems that allow workers to call for help. Security officers are also on site 24/7 to patrol the facilities.

In a statement from the Hawaii Government Employees Association, Randy Perreira said an in-depth review of the state hospital’s protocols was overdue. 

“For years, HGEA has urged the state to address safety issues facing our members at the Hawaii State Hospital, particularly our registered professional nurses. This tragedy sadly brought these long-standing workplace safety and security issues into stark focus. The state Department of Health’s launch of an exhaustive review of its facility is long overdue. HGEA stands ready to work with DOH to ensure the safety of our members and everyone who is employed at the state hospital.”

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A DOH spokesperson said they are conducting a safety stand-down, which includes a clinical review of the individual’s case, as well as the policies and procedures.