2 patients held staff hostage at Arizona hospital, police say

Two patients at the Phoenix-based Arizona State Hospital were arrested after barricading themselves and three employees in their treatment unit on Oct. 31, AZCentral reported.

The patients were forensic patients, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services. One was serving a mandatory sentence at the mental hospital.

One patient attacked the three staff members and caused more than $7,000 of damage to a piece of medical machinery and the room before surrendering to police. Both patients were charged with suspicion of aggravated assault against a healthcare worker and criminal damage and one was also charged with suspicion of burglary for an unlawful entry.

"Such incidents are extremely rare, and the Arizona State Hospital has established procedures in place to protect staff and patients if one should occur," the ADHS said in a statement. 

However, some disagree. State Sen. Nancy Barto is calling for a total overhaul and inspection of the state hospital's activity.

"While the Arizona Department of Health Services claims this incident was a rare occurrence, I've been contacted over the years by numerous courageous whistleblowers from within the system that have provided disturbing testimony on the many dangerous incidents, injuries, patient conditions and the lack of staffing that has led to what I see as a collapse of operations at the Arizona State Hospital," Senator Barto told Arizona's Family on Nov. 1.

The news station found 626 DHS reports of assault at the hospital, 265 of which were patients assaulting staff. The reports define assault as "any unwanted touch or other physical contact."

"There is no oversight. No checks and balances," a former employee told Arizona's Family. "At the end of the day[,] there is just not enough staff to run that hospital adequately."

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