Patient bites off nurse's ear at Western State Hospital in latest attack

SEATTLE -- A patient at Washington state's largest psychiatric hospital vaulted over the nurse's station, knocked a nurse to the floor, choked her and bit part of her ear off.

The Sunday night assault is the latest in a series of attacks on health care workers at Western State Hospital.

Kathy Spears, a spokeswoman for the facility, told staff in an email that the nurse was hospitalized but didn't reveal her condition.

The troubled 850-plus bed facility in Lakewood, Washington recently lost its accreditation and federal funds from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services due to repeated health and safety violations.

Workers at the facility have been holding rallies since August after another nurse was assaulted by a patient with a history of violence against staff.

Many workers say the wards are short-staffed, which makes them dangerous, and they oppose having violent patients moved to less-secure wards.