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State Hospital Safety Officer Fired after Punching Patient

The officer’s name is being withheld pending possible appeal of the disciplinary action.
LITTLE ROCK, AR -- The Arkansas State Hospital fired a unit safety officer Tuesday for failing to comply with the hospital’s seclusion and restraint guidelines during an incident with a patient. The officer’s name is being withheld pending possible appeal of the disciplinary action.

The incident happened July 3 when a male patient became agitated and hit the officer, who then responded by hitting the patient with a closed fist. The patient was taken to a nearby emergency room for stitches. and the officer was placed on administrative leave the same day pending the closure of the investigation, which happened on Tuesday.

“As part of their daily jobs, State Hospital staff will encounter agitated and difficult patients,” State Hospital CEO Steve Henson said in a news release. “To ensure the safety of staff and patients, we provide training on how to back away from dangerous situations, how to properly respond to a combative patient and how to call for assistance. Those things did not happen in this case.”

Henson said he has a zero-tolerance policy regarding any intentional abuse of patients.

The case file has been turned over to the Pulaski County Prosecuting Attorney’s office for further review.
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