ANNAPOLIS – The Court of Special Appeals on Thursday upheld the firing of a Salisbury hospital worker for striking a restrained patient who had bitten him.
Security officer Robert Fulton Bagwell Jr. sued the Peninsula Medical Center in 1993 for terminating his employment, claiming a list of wrongs that included abusive discharge, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligence, breach of contract, defamation, invasion of privacy, and intentional interference with contractual relations.
But when a Wicomico County Circuit Court judge summarily dismissed the case without a hearing, Bagwell’s lawyers appealed, saying that the Salisbury hospital fired him for “just doing his job.”
“They fired him for acting as a police officer, the job for which he was hired,” said David Love, Bagwell’s attorney.
The hospital’s attorneys could not be reached for comment.
According to court documents, Bagwell worked in the emergency room controlling the flow of visitors and assisting in controlling patients when necessary.
On July 9, 1992, a patient was brought to the hospital suffering from epileptic seizures induced from alcohol consumption. Emergency room workers tried to restrain him as he thrashed violently on the gurney, threatening to kill them if they wouldn’t release him.
The patient bit Bagwell’s right wrist as he helped hospital workers to secure him with leather straps. Bagwell then struck the patient on the top of the head.
Bagwell was asked to leave the emergency room as the patient grew more violent. The patient later told hospital officials that a security guard had hit him, and he threatened to sue the hospital.
“The hospital feared a lawsuit from the patient and we believe that to be one of the reasons Mr. Bagwell was fired,” Love said. “I am going to again ask the court to hear this case. It is very disappointing that they won’t,” he said. -30-