Patient Mistreatment Finding Prompts Exodus of Hospital Staff

ST. PAUL, Minn. — A decision by the Department of Human Services made public this week found that a psychiatrist at Minnesota Security Hospital violated licensing standards in the case of a patient who was locked naked in his room after he threatened to kill and rape hospital employees.

Psychiatrist Michael Harlow was fired in December following the Nov. 15, 2011 incident, MPR News reports. The firing sparked an exodus of most of the facility’s top psychiatric staff earlier this year. The facility has been ordered to pay a $1,000 fine, which Harlow — who claims he acted to prevent the patient from hurting staff — says he will appeal.

The hospital has been operating under a conditional license since December, when an investigation uncovered inconsistent policies on the use of restraints and seclusion. There have been 53 reports of problems at the Minnesota Security Hospital since Jan. 1, including allegations of maltreatment that remain under investigation.

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