Mass. ER Nurse Attacked by Patient in Police Custody

The nurse is speaking out about violence against nurses, which he says has been on the rise during the coronavirus pandemic.

Mass. ER Nurse Attacked by Patient in Police Custody

PLYMOUTH, Mass. — An emergency room nurse at a Massachusetts hospital is speaking out after he was attacked by a patient who was in police custody.

Jesse Telford, a charge nurse at Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital-Plymouth, said a patient, who had been escorted into the hospital by Kingston police officers for treatment of a hand injury, was swearing and threatening people, reports Boston 25.

Telford told the patient to calm down and eventually asked an officer to remove him from the ER. The patient continued to be loud and aggressive and then stood up and started to attack Telford and the officer, according to a police report.

The patient, identified as 27-year-old Michael Carlson, swung a chair at both men and threw punches before spitting at Telford and biting him in the back, breaking skin and drawing blood. The officer suffered hamstring, wrist and facial injuries

“He seemed like a rabid dog. He was intent on causing chaos and hurting people as much as he could,” Telford said of Carlson. “The police officer looked like he was in some trouble, and I started to get really scared that this person was going to overtake this police officer and get his gun away from him.”

Hospital security officers eventually arrived and were able to help subdue Carlson, who was brought back to jail.

According to police, Carlson has a history of violent convictions and he has several open cases against him within the last year alone. A Plymouth Superior Court grand jury indicted Carlson on rape, attempted murder and assault and battery on a family member.

Carlson was already in police custody during the attack due to an alleged violation of the terms of his probation. He allegedly cut off his GPS monitor and led state and local police on a chase through the woods Sunday following a family incident.

As a result of Monday’s incident, Carlson was arraigned Tuesday on two counts of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, assault and battery on an ambulance personnel, and assault and battery on a police officer, among other charges.

The judge ordered him held for a competency hearing, revoked his bail on his other cases, and set bail for the current case at $150,000.

ER Nurse Speaks Out About Violence Against Nurses

Although Telford told Boston 25 that he was frustrated Carlson had been released from jail and granted house arrest, he is focusing his energy on improving workplace safety for nurses.

Telford was previously attacked by a patient in police custody on Aug. 31. The patient, who was believed to be on drugs, became combative with ER staff. While trying to help subdue the patient, Telford tore a muscle in his arm and spent four weeks out of work while recovering.

“We are just getting assaulted constantly to the point where so much of it doesn’t even get reported because it’s happening so much right now,” he said. “We’re just human punching bags.”

Telford knows helping with combative patients is part of his job, but said violent incidents have been on the rise. He attributes the increase to the coronavirus pandemic and a resulting decrease in mental health and addiction services.

“People are hurting. They’re out of work. Life is just stressful right now,” Telford said. “And we’re just seeing a huge influx in these patients to where we’re just overrun with them.”

Telford is pushing for public health policy changes, including additional security, more than one police officer assigned to a prisoner being escorted to a hospital, and more information about potentially violent patients before they arrive.

About the Author


Amy is Campus Safety’s Senior Editor. Prior to joining the editorial team in 2017, she worked in both events and digital marketing.

Amy’s mother, brother, sister-in-law and a handful of cousins are teachers, motivating her to learn and share as much as she can about campus security. She has a minor in education and has worked with children in several capacities, further deepening her passion for keeping students safe.

In her free time, Amy enjoys exploring the outdoors with her husband, her son and her dog.

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