Psych clinic employee's death caused by heavy workload


The death of an employee in psychiatric clinic De Kijvelanden last year, was the result of a too high workload and staff shortages, the Inspectorate for Justice and Security concludes in a draft report on the incident. There was also too little supervision on the use of medicines and the rules on letting patients use dangerous objects were not followed, the report reads, RTL Nieuws reports.

In February last year a patient of the clinic stabbed employee Arnd Otten with scissors. He later died of his injuries. 

Patient Michel T. bought Ritalin from another patient, was revealed in the trial against him, according to RTL. He ground the pills into powder and sniffed it to become high. He was high when he stabbed Otten. There was too little supervision on the intake of medicines at the clinic, the Inspectorate concludes.

The Inspectorate also states that the clinic employed a lot of temporary workers who do not know the rules properly. Due to the heavy workload, there was little time to teach new employees, like Otten, everything they need to know to work well and safely. The staff warned the board about the workload, but they continued with a reorganization nevertheless.

These problems are not unique to De Kijvelanden, the association of psychiatric clinic lawyers said to RTL. "The staff shortage and changes in personnel are among the biggest problems we see in all psychiatric clinics", lawyer Job Knoester said. "If a patient sees six different treatment providers within a year, sometimes from temporary employment agencies, then you can expect problems. Something needs to be done."

Trade union FNV is also concerned. "Due to the staff shortages, employees sometimes stand alone in front of a group of patients. That creates a sense of insecurity", Elise Merljn of the union said to the broadcaster. "Because of the high workload, new employees quickly resign again. So you end up in a vicious circle." According to the union, the solution lies with politicians. "More money needs to be made available so that more training places are available and therefore more suitable staff. That is the only way to break the circle."