Ruling: State hospital workers’ firing unfair – Raleigh News & Observer

RALEIGH — Three former employees of a state mental hospital fired over allegations they abused a patient could get their jobs back.

A state administrative law judge ruled Monday that the state Department of Health and Human Services had no just cause to fire nurse Patricia Swann or health care technicians John Long Jr. and Fred Gooch. The three workers were dismissed nearly two years ago under a zero-tolerance policy established after numerous media reports of patients being abused and neglected in state hospitals, sometimes with deadly consequences.

The three were on duty at Central Regional Hospital in Butner in November 2008 when a 24-year-old patient resisted having his blood drawn for tests that a doctor had ordered. The employees restrained the man face-down, instead of placing him on his back, as is typical. Being restrained in a prone position can be life-threatening, causing the person to panic and making it difficult to breathe.

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