Yesterday the New York Times reported on the longstanding problem of patient assaults on medical personnel, particularly in psychiatric care: citing Bureau of Labor Statistics numbers, it said “half of all nonfatal injuries resulting from workplace assaults occur in health care and social service settings”. (David Tuller, “Nurses Step Up Efforts to Protect Against Attacks”, Jul. 8). So it’s worth noting what happened to Northfield City Hospital in Northfield, Minnesota when a man showed up at the emergency room at 2 a.m., ranting and yelling in an increasingly agitated manner. Hospital staff finally called the police, who arrived on the scene at 7 a.m., assessed the situation and tasered the man. (He was uninjured otherwise and was subdued without losing consciousness.) “Now federal and state health officials have cited the Northfield hospital for violating the patient’s rights,” a development that has outraged hospital officials in the state. The state health department says it believes that staff at the facility, a small one with fewer than 100 beds, “needs more training in deescalation techniques”. The hospital has hired two security guards and is negotiating other steps with the state (Maura Lerner, “Hospital calls cops and feels the sting”, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Jun. 15). A commenter at KevinMD asserts:
A few years ago, Medicare tried to prohibit physicians from discharging a patient for any reason, up to and including physical attacks on physicians and staff.
Just as the doctors were required to hire translators at the doctor’s expense, they would be required to hire security at the doctor’s expense.
They backed off then, when they physicians called them on it. Not surprised they would try again.