A patient who left a hospital in Northwest Washington without signing out last week died after security guards took him to the ground and one used “hand controls to restrain him,” according to a D.C. police report made public Monday.
The report does not provide further details of the type of force used or where on the patient’s body it was applied. The report describes the patient as having resisted attempts by the guards and a nurse to return him to MedStar Washington Hospital Center in the 100 block of Irving Street NW.
The man was injured about 5 p.m. Tuesday and died at the hospital Thursday. An autopsy had not been completed Monday, and officials did not say why the man had been hospitalized.
D.C. police and hospital officials also declined to make the patient’s name public, which is unusual in a death investigation. A doctor who briefed reporters on the incident said at a news conference that the man’s family had requested privacy. The family could not be reached.
Arthur St. Andre, a surgical care specialist at MedStar Washington Hospital Center, told reporters that the patient died after an “interaction that was physical between the patient and the officers.” An earlier statement from the hospital said the patient had been “critically injured during an altercation with two of our security officers.”
The guards, who are listed as special police officers authorized to carry guns and make arrests, have been put on administrative leave with pay. They are employed by the hospital, and D.C. police are leading the investigation. Police declined to comment on the case.
St. Andre, speaking at Monday’s news conference, called the incident “devastating.” He said police and hospital officials are continuing to investigate.
He said the patient, wearing a hospital gown, left MedStar the afternoon of Sept. 29 without signing out. Typically, patients who are at the hospital have to sign a form if they leave against the advice of doctors. Officials would not say whether the man was at the hospital voluntarily.
The patient’s nurse and a security guard found the patient outside near MedStar National Rehabilitation Hospital across the street from the front entrance of Washington Hospital Center, Andre said. The nurse and guard walked him to the hospital and turned him over to security guards.
That is when the altercation occurred, on a stretch of grass about 30 feet in front of a parking garage on Irving Street. Andre had said two guards were involved, both from Washington Hospital Center. The police report lists three people, in addition to the patient, who played a role in the altercation.
The report says the three tried to return the patient to the hospital when “it was reported that he became non-compliant and resisted and a struggle ensued.” According to the report, the patient “was taken to the ground” by two of the people and a third “utilized hand controls to restrain” him. The report does not describe the patient’s injuries.
St. Andre said the nurse and a rapid-response team resuscitated the patient, who was taken to intensive care. St. Andre said the guards were armed but that no weapon was used.
“We are examining this entire event to see what we could have done better,” St. Andre said. “Our patients and community trust us to provide excellent, safe and secure care. An event like this causes us to pause and reflect.”
Dana Hedgpeth and Jennifer Jenkins contributed to this report.