Monday, November 24, 2008

'Fixing Hell' author provides direction for how to fix the night shift at Butner Central Hospital re: patient tied face down in order to draw blood

I was a Registered Respiratory Therapist for almost two decades prior to becoming a psychologist. I have drawn blood on literally thousands of people. I do not understand why you have to put someone face down in order to draw their blood. You can use tape to immobilize any one's body----inch by inch----if necessary. Unless someone has been an IV drug abuser, you can get blood out of them, somewhere. And there's no advantage on the back side of their body, either.

This being said, I never had to draw blood on someone as combative as this.

But I've worked plenty of night shifts and indeed the hardest I EVER worked in my life was at 2 am at Grady Hospital in Atlanta in the ICU's.

Additionally, you might imagine that there it was, the end of the tiresome night shift, the client was combative and would not stay still in order to get the blood drawn and so you have to come up w/ a solution unless you are going to take an ax and just lob off a limb in order to 'do what the doctor said.'

Moreover, its not cool to pass the task to the next shift. However, if you had a supervisor, they could make this happen when there would be more staff during the day.

A supervisor, I would think, would have interceded and talked w/ the physician in order to perhaps come up w/ a time later in the day instead of 6:30 am, right in the middle of the big change of the shift starting to crank. Later you would have had more staff, a refreshed staff, not the tired night shift, and things would have turned out differently.

This is what the psychologist, Colonel Larry C. James, PhD, is talking about in his book, Fixing Hell, as regards 'what goes on during the night shift' at GITMO and Abu Ghraib. Anything that is going to go wrong, is going to happen on the night shift due to the lack of supervision.

Excerpt, Fixing Hell, pgs. 50,51:

"That night at about 1 am I was making my rounds in the building that housed most of the interrogation booths....As I walked toward the observation room with its one-way mirror that would allow me to peek into the interrogation boothsw, I heard lots of yelling, screaming, and furniture being thrown around. I saw Luther and three MPs wrestling with a detainee on the floor. It was an awful sight. I wanted to run back to my room and wash my eyes with bleach. The detainee was naked except for the pink panties I had seen hanging on the door earlier. He also had lipstick and a wig on. The four men were holding the prisoner down and trying to outfit him with the matching pink nightgown, but he was fighting hard.

My first instinct was to rush in and start barking orders at the men, demanding they stop this ridiculous and abusive wrestling match. But I managed to quell that urge and wait. .....Someone is going to get hurt, I thought. I need to stop this right now. I knocked on the door and stepped in, trying hard to look like this crazy scene didn't bother me in the least. 'Hey Luther, you want some coffee?" I asked ina calm, low voice. Luther, who looked like he'd been wrestling a pig and wasn't coming out ahead, got up off the floor and walked over to me. "I sure do , Colonel,", he said, breathing hard. "I'll take you up on that, sir."

And so, Mr. Benton: are you going to make sure that there is a supervisor available on the night shift which can settle matters like this?

Not if you do not understand the hospital milieu of shift work and what happens during those dark hours in the middle of the night, come 4 am. Try working it yourself: you'll see just how tough it is and why the available, well-trained 24/7 supervision needs to be functioning, as Dr. James outlines in his book as associated with another version of hell.


Workers speak out about patient abuse claims

Posted: Today at 5:53 a.m. : 11.24.08

".....Butner, N.C. — Poor training, understaffing and confusing work policies were to blame for an incident in which a patient was improperly restrained at the state's newest psychiatric hospital in Butner......

The workers said a doctor ordered them to do a forced blood draw on an aggressive and combative patient and that although they did not want to, they felt obligated to follow orders.

"He wasn't in any danger at any time," said Patricia Swann, a nursing supervisor involved in the incident. "We had staff sitting with him at all times."

The employees involved and the union representative representing them said Monday management is making the employees out to be scapegoats.

"Nothing ever comes around until something goes wrong," said Bernice Lunsford, the union representative for the Central employees. "It seems like, to me, around here, you're damned if you do and damned if you don't......"


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