Patient-on-patient violence at Austin State Hospital has soared more than 170 percent over the past five years, one of the most dramatic increases in a system seeing an escalating number of such episodes at all of its inpatient psychiatric facilities, reports the Austin American-Statesman. Incidents of violence at all of the state-run hospitals have increased 22 percent since 2008, rising from 2,700 to 3,300 in fiscal 2012.
Hospital staffers are also being injured by patients. The overall number of patient-inflicted injuries has hovered at about 2,000 over the past five years, but workers' compensation claims by hospital staffers have increased 40 percent, rising from 448 in 2008 to 629 in 2012. The Department of State Health Services attributes the rising numbers to the fact that staffers are reporting incidents more often and that hospitals are taking in sicker patients than in the past. “Local crisis systems are now better able to take care of the less extreme cases,” said spokesperson Carrie Williams. “There are more outpatient opportunities in the community, so the patients that come to us are the most acutely ill with the most serious problems.”