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donedeal

Pressing charges against patients

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I am wondering if anyone has any experiences with being assaulted by patients and if you have pressed charges? I was punched in the head by a psychiatric patient, who had been Baker Acted ( Florida law permits a mental health professional, law enforcement officer, or judge who issues an ex parte order to initiate an involuntary examination when a patient acts against his/her best interests, is suicidal, or will cause harm to others). I was assisting 2 nurses get the patient back into his room when he lunged at me and struck me in the side of the head with a closed fist 2 or 3 times. He was then wrestled to the ground. All of the staff said I should press charges, but when I spoke to the police officer to fill out a police report he told me I was wasting my time. Because he was a psychiatric patient, I have no case, and that no judge will prosecute. Any thoughts? I want to pursue this despite what he says. It is ridiculous that a patient can assault a healthcare professional and get away with it.

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I can only say one thing to you, welcome to EMS. This is a common issue among healthcare workers throughout the country.

You are not alone in this.

Psychiatric patients who assault you, especially Baker Acted patients are pretty much non-prosecutable. Sure, you can try to press charges but due to the fact that they were baker act patients you are probably barking up a non-climbable tree.

I think that if you continued to shake the tree you might find a prosecutor who would be willing to prosecute but psych patients have a unique defense, they don't get charged for assaulting you or I because who wants to prosecute a psych patient, especially one who is baker acted. Defense attorneys eat this kind of stuff up.

Chalk it up to experience and a lesson learned, never never never never turn your back on a psych patient or go in a room without enough help.

I truly feel for your situation but I dont' think you are going to get much traction on the prosecuting thing.

Other patients, not psych patients, are easier to press charges on.

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What really suprises me is when we bring in a restrained patient and nurses w/o backup start freeing them. Some say they have to see the actions themselves are they cannot legally restrain, don't know if that is true or not but it seems that they should still us caution while releasing restrained patients.

We were transporting a violent Psych patient restrained. My partner was in the back. In the mirror I would look back and check when safe as I drove. About 30 minutes into the transport I looked back and the patient had my partner and was hitting him. Patient was still partially restrained and together we restrained him with even more restraints, law enforcement about 30 miles away so no help. Partner was more embarrassed than hurt. Got to hospital notified them what had happened. They left him restrained while we were their. Shortly after we left someone ordered him released from restraints. So a lone nurse went in and began releasing him and he kicked her breaking her ribs. Same patient later injured another nurse when they again started to unrestrain him. Never prosecuted because of mental status.

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In any case, what good would it do to work toward prosecuting this patient. Im not excusing his behavior, but are you just looking to get even? Many people that are not prosecutable in criminal courts for battery can still be held liable in a civil court. Of course, unless you are emotionally scarred by this (ie having nightmares, flashbacks, etc), a judge would likely not find your patient civilly liable either. My advice, take a good self-defense course. DT4EMS comes to mind. You can find several videos of their technique on youtube and also on their website. The techniques they teach are designed not only to keep you from getting mauled by a patient, but also to use just enough force to allow you to escape and hence be more defensible when the patient turns around and sues you or presses charges. This has happened to me a couple of times. Its sad, but its part of being in the box. You might alway want to check into better ways of restraining violent psych patients or perhaps using chemical restraints like haldol if your state allows it. Thats life in the box.

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Don't allow yourself to fall into the mindset that you are a victim as the result of your profession. Time and time again I've heard providers complain about the drunk that punched them or spit on them. I've heard the excuse, well he didn't know what he was doing cause he was drunk. Sorry, no excuse. A drunk spit in my face several years ago. He got 3 to 23 months in jail for his trouble followed by 2 years of probation. In court it was clear he had no memory of me or what he did. Didn't matter to the DA, didn't matter to the judge.

Pscyh patient's may be a different story. However not all psych pt's are created equal. This patient that assaulted you, were they psychotic? Were they so mentally ill that they really were not responsible for their actions? If the answer is yes then I tend to agree with Basic, why waste the time. But if we're talking about a guy that just felt down in the dumps and threatened suicide but was otherwise mentally clear....well, that might be a different story.

If you really want to know if you have a case perhaps you could call the District Attorney's office and run the scenario by them. Police officer's aren't lawyers and shouldn't be relied upon to dispense legal advice (I have several friends that are cops, they all agree on this point).

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You have been jumped into EMS my friend.....I have been assulted 5 times in 16 plus years must serious hit in the back of the head with a beer bottle at a party. My partner took him out.....been hit/slapped/bitten/groped/ gun and knife shown to me,2 spent time under corrections but most get off so use alittle non violent intervention :wink: :wink: :wink: and show who's the Alpha Dog.

Take Care and bee Safe

and always do a quick patdown with domestics

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I've worked in a psych hospital for 17+ years. Rarely have I seen a patient charged with assault, let alone prosecuted. If you feel so inclined to pursue pressing charges, go ahead. Maybe a judge will convict the patient. What will you gain? Taking a day off to sit in court? Dealing with psych patients can be difficult. Learning to recognize their unpredictable and agressive behavior has helped keep me safe. I have one rule. Return home in the same condition that I arrived to work. Watch your back ( and other's too ) and expect the unexpected. Good luck.

Shayne

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Lemme ask you this, in all honesty, how badly were you hurt? Did you have to get a CAT Scan? Was there bleeding? Did you have disturbed vision or constant headaches or loss of coordination? If not, please, explain to me, how is pressing charges on this individual really going to do anything in terms of the interest of justice? I mean, is it really worth tying up some poor judge and burden some person who obviously has a bunch of problems already because they laid a finger on your imperial countenance? What, in the grand scheme of the sun rising in the east and us breathing air in will the benefit of pressing charges because mommy's little pumpkin got slapped a little? The legal system, at one time, was a place for people to have their problems settled fairly and impartiallly. These problems were usually along the lines of somebody stealing your farm or making off with your daughter. Now, every single whiny, helpless, squealing little mole person has used and abused the poor justice system until it becomes nothing more than a hollow shell for someone to stroke their ego and look for a quick buck. Don't be that guy.

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Great post Asys...

Recently there was an 18 year old local autistic boy (some might say man, but he is a boy) that was arrested for assaulting his teacher. His teacher got elbowed in the head while they were trying to restrain him at school and the teacher decided to press charges. A situations that should never have been allowed to develop.

What amazes me about this situations, and I am pursuing my position with some zeal, is that by doing so he is admitting to God and everyone that he was unable to care for this boy. He is telling everyone..."I claimed I was qualified to do this job, I've accepted money for doing this job, but now that I've failed I would like someone else to be responsible." Ridiculous in my eyes.

It seems to me that you were responsible for this patient (I'm guessing as you haven't responded to the other posts yet). You were responsible for your own safety as well. I sounds as though you failed on both counts. Why is putting the patient in jail a solution for this problem?

You're young yet, but I hope that the time you spend here will convince you to invest yourself in things that will make positive changes, not things that allow you to feel powerful and vindictive. I'm guessing that if you look back on this situation you can come up with at least one way you could have dealt with it that would not have put you, your patient, and a couple of nurses in danger needlessly.

Now you've been there, done that. You now know better, so next time do better.

Take good care of yourself. Have a great day!

Dwayne

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What part of "involuntary hold" are we not understanding here? He was judged as being mentally unstable by a police officer, judge, or mental health professional and is being held AGAINST HIS WILL. It is a shame that they let people assist in the care of patients with mental disorders who do not understand that these patients will not act like everyone else. This is why it is called a MENTAL disorder. You wouldn't press charges against a violent trauma patient would you?

There are 2 scenarios that I see as taking place.

1. The patient was mentally STABLE. The hold was unlawful and the patient is being falsely held against their will. You stand in his way out and are acting, regardless of legal liability, in conjunction with his captors.

2. The patient was mentally UNSTABLE. He was deemed to be, at least for the time being, unable to make his own decisions. If he was competent enough to make his own decisions, don't you think he wouldn't be under a hold than?

2.a. The patient was mentally unstable and has a long psychiatric history. He has been transported by your company before by some asshat EMT that thinks psychiatric patients are fun to screw with. You are a symbol of that company by wearing the uniform. You might not have screwed with the patient, but he probably doesn't care.]

My advice, take your lumps and learn from it.

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