Maine hospital employees punched violent patients, CMS report finds

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There were two separate instances of physical abuse against patients at Portland-based Maine Medical Center last year — one involving a nurse and another involving a security guard, a CMS report found.

CMS conducted an on-site survey at the hospital in late July and early August of last year and determined that the two "incidents of physical abuse were substantiated" and placed patients in "immediate jeopardy."

The hospital was required to submit a corrective plan, which it did Aug. 11. An on-site visit Aug. 14 confirmed that the plan had been implemented and was effective, and the "immediate jeopardy" determination was removed.

The first incident of abuse occurred July 9, when a patient with schizoaffective disorder and a bipolar type diagnosis was admitted to the emergency department, CMS said. The patient, who was banging their head and exhibiting behavior that could cause self-injury, had to be restrained, according to the CMS report.

Witnesses said that a security officer struck the patient several times after the patient struck the officer in the face while restraints were being applied.

The second incident, on July 26, involved an 83-year-old dementia patient who was admitted to the hospital for treatment for injuries sustained after a fall, including a fractured rib, at the assisted living facility where the patient lives.

At the hospital, the patient could not get out of bed without staff help and had displayed agitated and aggressive behavior toward the staff. A certified nursing assistant reported that a registered nurse punched the patient in the ribs after the patient spit out medicine in the face of the RN who was trying to administer it, according to the report.

A spokesperson for Maine Medical Center told Becker's Hospital Review via email that the hospital has implemented enhanced trainings in de-escalation techniques for members of its patient care teams, and it has enacted "proper reporting standards."

"Maine Medical Center has no tolerance for any instance of abuse, neglect or exploitation against patients and staff," the statement reads.

The two employees who were the subject of the complaints no longer work at the hospital.

The security officer and RN both faced criminal charges for their actions, CMS said.

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