This is a case of wrongful use of seclusion and restraints at McLean Hospital in 1998. I have never spoken of this before because I feared dishonoring the memory of my late boyfriend. I know, however, that McLean was at fault. I know the hospital will only say I am crazy. I also know some of the employees or former employees will back what I am saying. It is likely that they recall these events and will wholeheartedly agree, especially if they no longer have ties to this institution. Also, if any former patients recall these events, most likely they, too, will remember what I remember. Again, I did not come forward because I had ethical questions, but now I realize since McLean was to blame I should say something.
They put my boyfriend, Joe, who was paralyzed in his feet and below the knees, into a seclusion room and took away his wheelchair and any means to leave the room via crutches. He had only a bed in there, maybe a pillow, probably sheets or a blanket, maybe not, though. If they felt like it. They just left him there. On that unit they had a bathroom that could be used by the patient in the seclusion room if necessary, a single bathroom, but he couldn’t use it. He couldn’t get to it. They just left him there in that room, all day long.
Did they do anything for him? No. Nothing. They left him there, claiming they were short-staffed whenever I asked.
I went to visit daily. Every day. They let him smoke sometimes. Somehow he was allowed to go out and then they made him go back to seclusion.
Here’s the bad part. He told me they did not bring him any means to pee. Joe did not pee the way the rest of you men pee. He used a catheter. Catheters are tubes that let the pee out. This was due to damage to his bladder. So he used a tube. But the tubes, which were disposable rubber tubes, had to be brought to him. They didn’t.
Or, they’d bring a catheter but they didn’t bring a vessel to pee in, such as a urinal. Or allow him to go to that nearby bathroom. Or he’d fill the urinals they’d supply and then, refuse to empty the ones they’d brought. This was a technical problem, a much more common one than anyone realizes.
They Don’t Let You Pee. The No Pee Problem.
The No Pee Problem adds up. If you aren’t allowed to pee, if you are forced to hold it, you can develop medical problems. If you already have a damaged bladder, this can be extremely serious. Joe and I exchanged glances.
“They know this,” he said. “They know what will happen.”
He ended up with a very serious UTI. He got blamed 100% and the hospital took none of that blame. He had to have life-changing surgery as a result. After the surgery his self-esteem plummeted. Adjusting to a stoma was difficult.
None of those “staff” even thought that the man in seclusion had to pee, because he was a human being just like all of us. What if they had to come to work with a stoma every day?
All they did was yell at him, if I recall correctly. They said he was a nuisance.
The doctors called him an “interesting case.” To those doctors, I’d like to remind you we patients aren’t specimens, we’re human, just like you, like your wife and kids.
In most states. the law says a patient in restraints has to be let out and “checked” medically every two hours. And also “checked” every 15 minutes. How often have I seen this done? NOT ONCE. Zero. Never. It is often documented in the patient’s chart that it WAS done, but it is NEVER done in reality. NEVER. I have never once seen the law followed in regard to restraints and seclusion on psych wards.
None of this justifies restraints and seclusion. The fact that these staff cannot even follow the very basics of the laws and instead, rushes to extremes of cruelty, always resorted to illegal means, makes the use of these inhumane practices clearly questionable to any logical thinker.