Hospital calls cops and feels the sting

Taser response to disturbed patient leads to ruling from federal and state officials

Northfield's police chief, Mark Taylor, defended the use of the Taser. Department policy says the Taser can be used "if an officer feels that either he is in danger or someone else is," Taylor said. "In this case, that's what we feel happened."

In April, the Health Department investigated after receiving a complaint about the incident. Its report, dated May 7, cited the hospital for violating three federal rules. Although it gave no specifics, it referred to rules on the use of restraints and the patient's rights "to receive care in a safe setting."

Bank, president of the Northfield hospital, was stunned.

Feinwachs, of the Hospital Association, was outraged.

"To suggest that somehow seeking the intervention of law enforcement is an impropriety on the part of a health care provider seems to be illogical," Feinwachs said. "In case of bizarre circumstances, throw yourself in harm's way before you call the police? That's the way I read it."

Miner, of the Health Department, said that isn't the intent.

They didn't cite the hospital for calling police, she said. "Our question was what was happening in those five hours before the police arrived."

She said the staff needs more training in deescalation techniques. They report seeing an average of two patients a day for psychiatric or alcohol-related problems. "They knew that they should expect psychiatric patients and be prepared for them, and they were not," she said.

Since then, Northfield City Hospital has hired two security guards. They will try to negotiate a plan for future incidents with the Health Department.

"It is absolutely our commitment to make sure that we're providing a safe environment for patients," Bank said.