Patient attacks nurse at Napa State Hospital

NAPA, Calif.

The nurse will be OK, but this makes the fifth assault at that hospital on a worker in recent years. Recent safety improvements may indeed have saved a life.

When medical workers arrive at Napa State Hospital, orange signs are the first things they see. They say, "Turn on PDAS tag."

PDAS stands for personal distress alarm system. It's the same device a nurse activated on Sunday night when she was suddenly attacked by a patient. Emergency alarms were sounded throughout the hospital giving the nurse's exact location.

Ralph Montano from the Department of Public Health spoke to us via phone. He told us, "Other staff responded immediately to that alarm, the patient was arrested by hospital police without further incident."

The nurse went to a hospital on her own, she was treated and released.

A staffer, who didn't want his face on camera, said that nurses' life may have been saved by the wireless PDAS device, the same one he wears. Usually around his neck, you can't be choked with it because it's designed to break away if an attacker pulls too hard.

The staffer told us, "If you don't have a cell phone it will call police by pulling this."

The alarms were launched last year after nurse Donna Gross was strangled by a patient in 2010. Since then there have been other attacks by violent patients. Unions demanded more safety improvements and 13 more hospital police officers have been hired.

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