Officials investigate duct taping of patient

January 25, 2008 3:58:26 PM PST
A row has erupted over the use of duct tape to restrain a patient being transferred from one medical facility to another.

Although state regulations don't specifically mention or prohibit duct tape, New Jersey Health Department officials say using duct tape is not acceptable under any circumstances.

That's why the health department is investigating a Thursday morning incident where 2 EMTs from the Hamilton-based Meditransport of New Jersey used duct tape on the wrists, ankles and arms to restrain a male patient being transferred from the Millhouse Nursing Home in Trenton to the crisis unit at Capital Health Systems Fuld.

"I suspended them without pay," said Andy Linardos, the president of Meditransport.

He says the EMTs told him the patient was a threat to them and the nursing home staff. But Linardos makes no excuses for his employees using duct tape, especially when all of the company's ambulances are equipped with padded leather restraints.

"It was done improperly. The patient should not have been restrained -- should not have been restrained period, unless they had a restraining order from the physician," said Linardos.

Linardos told Action News that the patient in question has psychiatric problems and has been violent in the past during other transports. EMT supervisor Christine Hendrickson was injured during one of them.

"He can be very persistent in being aggressive and angry, flailing his arms, kicking, and will come at you with no problem," said Hendrickson.

In New Jersey restraints can only be used with a doctor's prescription. It's not clear why restraints weren't ordered on Thursday, but the administrator at Millhouse Nursing Home says his staffers objected to the EMTs using duct tape on the patient and even tried to cut the tape with scissors.

According to Len Trager, "We do not condone or agree with this type of treatment. We would never do this to our residents."

"I apologize for what they did. It's not our policy. We've been doing this for 14 years," said Linardo.