Violence in hospital emergency rooms is a stark and growing problem nationwide, often linked to patients with mental health or drug addictions, according to the Emergency Nurses Association.
Whidbey isn’t immune to the problem.
In one recent case, the Coupeville marshal responded to a report of a patient assaulting a nurse in the emergency room of WhidbeyHealth Medical Center at about noon on Oct. 29.
The nurse reported that a patient, Clinton resident Michael J. Allen, left a treatment room and was walking around the hallways of the emergency room. She told him he couldn’t wander the halls because of patient privacy.
Allen allegedly refused to listen to the nurse, and then hit her on the face, the police report states. He left the ER and walked to a bus stop.
The marshal arrested Allen on suspicion of third-degree assault. Under state law, it’s a felony to assault a nurse, physician or health care provider.
A judge in Island County Superior Court ordered that Allen be interviewed by a mental health professional for possible commitment.