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Patient Abuse
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Combating Patient Abuse and Rights Violations
Dedicated to Assisting Consumers at the Oregon State Hospital
Patient abuse is a serious offense that, when committed, must be promptly addressed.

IMPORTANT: When reporting abuse make sure to include, who was involved (full names), what
exactly occurred, when did it occur, where did it occur, how did it occur, and why did it occur.
Make sure to include names and contact information for all witnesses.

According to OAR 309-116-0010 and OSH Policy 7.008, the word ’abuse’ means “[a]ny act or
absence of action inconsistent with prescribed patient treatment and care that violates the
well-being or dignity of the patient..” This is a very broad definition and it is necessary to
describe the different types of patient abuse and examples of each type of the abuse. In
Oregon, we recognize 5 different forms of abuse. They are:

VERBAL ABUSE is any verbal communication which violates the well-being (mental or physical
comfort) or dignity of the consumer. Here are some forms of verbal abuse, “yelling, harassment,
intimidation or threats, cursing or foul language, nicknames that are not requested by the
patient, ridiculing, AND any remark that is intended to upset or provoke a negative response by
the patient.” Example: A MHT says to a patient, “You need to take a shower because you
smell.” This is verbal abuse because it violates the well-being of the individual and the employee
should be more sensitive to the person’s feelings and dignity. OSH Policy 7.008(II)(A)(2).

ABUSE BY FAILURE TO ACT includes neglecting the care of the patient which results in physical
or psychological harm. This type of abuse may be committed by an employee failing to provide
authorized and prescribed treatment or by failing to intervene when a consumer needs
assistance in order to maintain his or her physical or mental well-being. Example: Patient A is
depressed and isolating. It is very obvious that patient A is going through some emotional
trouble. Staff do not intervene. This is patient abuse by failure to act because staff are
responsible to ensure that every patient is properly treated and cared for. Example: Another
example is where a patient has a physicians order for some type of treatment or medication and
the staff member neglects to provide such treatment. This is patient neglect. OSH Policy

CONDONING ABUSE is when an employee permits abusive conduct (verbal or physical) toward
a consumer by any staff, patient, or any other person. Example: Patient A is putting down and
making fun of patient B and staff member C is watching and not instructing patient A to stop.
This is condoning patient abuse because the employee is paid to protect the physical and
mental well-being of every patient. The employee is responsible to make sure that other patients
do not verbally or physically abuse each other. OSH Policy 7.008(II)(A)(5).

PHYSICAL ABUSE is when a staff member shoves, pushes, trips, or uses any type of physical
force which is unnecessary or excessive. Example: A staff member is walking into the kitchen.
There is a patient in his/her way. He shoves the patient out of the way. This is patient physical
abuse because this type of physical force is unnecessary and it is an unwarranted intrusion on
the physical space of the person. The staff member could have politely asked the patient to
move. OSH Policy 7.008(II)(A)(1).

SEXUAL ABUSE is any contact, verbal or physical, of a sexual nature between a staff and
patient. This also includes a staff members failure to discourage sexual advances toward staff
by a patient. Sexual abuse also includes a staff member permitting the sexual exploitation of a
patient by another patient. Example: A staff member tells a patient that he/she has a ’sexy
body’. OSH Policy 7.008(II)(A)(4)

A hospital employee shall be subject to disciplinary action if he or she is found responsible for:
(a) Abusing a patient; (b) Failing to report an alleged incident of abuse; (c) Giving untruthful
information during an investigation into abuse. OSH Policy 7.008(I)(B).

Immediate termination
Suspension or administrative leave
Reassignment to another ward or program
Criminal prosecution
Other disciplinary action

Oregon Statute requires mandatory y reporting and investigations of allegations of abuse of
individuals with disabilities. ORS §430.735. Therefore, any staff member that has reason to
believe that an incident of abuse has occurred must immediately report it to the hospital
superintendent and submit a written account of the abuse pursuant to OSH Policy 7.008(III)(A).
Failure to follow these rules constitutes cause for disciplinary action under ‘Failure to Report
Patient Abuse’.

As soon as an allegation of abuse is made and the superintendent is notified, steps must be
taken to protect the abused patient from any further abuse. If necessary, employees may be
reassigned pending a resolution of the abuse allegation. OSH Policy 7.008.

Within 24 hours of the superintendent receiving the allegation of patient abuse from either an
employee, patient, or other person, the superintendent must determine whether the allegation, if
true, would constitute patient abuse. If so, then the superintendent has 24 hours to request an
investigation into the abuse. In most cases, the Office of Investigations and Training then
conducts a thorough and comprehensive investigation. This investigation by the OIT normally
takes between 1 and 3 weeks. The findings are then submitted to the superintendent for a final
determination of abuse. If it is determined that the abuse allegation was substantiated then the
superintendent shall immediately initiate discipline or other corrective action with the responsible

ORS §430.735, Abuse of Disabled Adults; OAR 309-116-0000 through 309-116-0100, Patient
Abuse and Neglect; OSH Policy 7.008, Abuse of Hospitalized Patients

Deborah Howard, Assoc. Director 503-945-7132
Marvin Fickle, M.D., Superintendent 503-945-2850
Email P.R.A.C. with your abuse complaint