Death in ER un­der re­view

Al­bany Med: Pa­tient was ag­gres­sive, med­i­cated; staffers in­volved on leave

Albany Times Union - - FRONT PAGE - By Emily Masters and Chris Churchill

Al­bany Med­i­cal Cen­ter Hos­pi­tal and city po­lice are in­ves­ti­gat­ing the death of a pa­tient who was be­ing re­strained in the emer­gency depart­ment Wed­nes­day night, the hos­pi­tal’s chief med­i­cal di­rec­tor said Fri­day evening.

Dr. Den­nis Mckenna said em­ploy­ees in­volved in the in­ci­dent have been placed on ad­min­is­tra­tive leave.

The death fol­lowed a 911 call at about 7:40 p.m. Wed­nes­day re­port­ing that a man who ap­peared in­tox­i­cated was ha­rass­ing peo­ple at Cen­tral Av­enue and

Man­ning Boule­vard, near Swin­burne Park, Al­bany po­lice spokesman Of­fi­cer Steve Smith said.

Af­ter speak­ing with the 45-year-old man, of­fi­cers de­ter­mined he was pos­si­bly “in cri­sis,” Smith said. Of­fi­cers called an am­bu­lance to take the man to the hos­pi­tal for a med­i­cal eval­u­a­tion.

One of the of­fi­cers rode in the am­bu­lance with the man and left the ER at 8:30 p.m., once the pa­tient was trans­ferred into the hos­pi­tal’s care, Smith said.

An hour later, po­lice were called back to Al­bany Med for a re­port of a pa­tient act­ing “com­bat­ive and ag­gres­sive,” Smith said. “When of­fi­cers ar­rived, the pa­tient was al­ready un­re­spon­sive and be­ing cared for.”

Mckenna, dur­ing an un­usual Fri­day evening press con­fer­ence that was not at­tended by po­lice, said the man ar­rived at

the emer­gency room act­ing ag­gres­sively and staff mem­bers tried to calm him ver­bally.

When that didn’t work, a doc­tor or­dered that med­i­ca­tion be ad­min­is­tered, “with the agree­ment of the pa­tient,” Mckenna said. When the pa­tient con­tin­ued to be ag­gres­sive, the staff re­strained the man and gave him a sec­ond dose, Mckenna said.

Im­me­di­ately af­ter­ward, med­i­cal staff found that the man was not breath­ing and did not have a pulse, the doc­tor said. Ef­forts to re­vive the pa­tient failed.

Mckenna would not say how many em­ploy­ees have been placed on ad­min­is­tra­tive leave, a move he de­scribed as rou­tine for such in­ves­ti­ga­tions. He said that hos­pi­tal staff and the man both suf­fered in­juries dur­ing the strug­gle.

Mckenna said trained hos­pi­tal staff can ap­ply re­straints to wrists and an­kles, or across the chest, if a pa­tient is a dan­ger to them­selves or oth­ers. Med­i­cal per­son­nel must check the pulse of pa­tients and mon­i­tor them af­ter re­straints are used, he said.

“The process is highly reg­u­lated,” Mckenna said.

Mckenna said that the need to re­strain a pa­tient who is act­ing in an ag­gres­sive man­ner “sim­i­lar to this hap­pens often.” But in Mckenna’s 20 years on the job he has not had a cir­cum­stance where a pa­tient has died dur­ing the process, he said.

An au­topsy will be per­formed by an in­de­pen­dent foren­sic pathol­o­gist and the hos­pi­tal will also or­der a sep­a­rate tox­i­col­ogy anal­y­sis. Re­sults are ex­pected in the com­ing weeks, Mckenna said.

Mckenna said the hos­pi­tal was hold­ing the press con­fer­ence in an ef­fort to be “fully trans­par­ent.” A hos­pi­tal spokesman later said ad­min­is­tra­tors de­cided to an­nounce the in­ves­ti­ga­tion Fri­day evening af­ter con­duct­ing an ini­tial round of in­ter­views.


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