Hospital Fined $71,000 For Man's Restraint Death
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
October 31, 2005
LEHIGHTON, PENNSYLVANIA--On October 4, 2004, Benjamin Wolfe died after being restrained facedown by several employees at Gnaden Huetten Memorial Hospital.
According to the Morning Call, the county coroner listed Wolfe's cause of death as "excited delirium aggravated by a physical struggle". The death certificate does not list a manner of death because state police are still investigating.
The state Department of Health has fined the hospital $71,000 after issuing a 38-page report saying it violated state law in Wolfe's treatment.
The report showed that Wolfe, 29, who had bipolar disorder and asthma, was involuntarily committed to the hospital the day before his death because of outbursts he made toward a family member after he stopped taking his psychiatric medication.
The day he died, Wolfe was "hugging a peer and dancing around the nurses station", refusing to leave the area, when a security guard was called in. Wolfe reportedly lunged at a nurse but was taken to the ground and held down by at least five employees -- one of which worked for the housekeeping department and had no training in restraint techniques.
Wolfe was restrained for 17 minutes -- even after one of the workers told the others to release him and after he had been injected with two different medications.
The report noted that the form of prone restraint was not approved, and that staff failed to try non-physical means to calm Wolfe.
The state investigation also found the hospital failed to report Wolfe's restraint-related death to the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Instead, a family member notified the Health Department, prompting the investigation.
"Hospital fined $71,000 in death" (Morning Call)