Patient Escapes During Understaffed Shift

The plaintiff was an employee of San Marcos Treatment Center, assigned to a Unit charged with the care of ‘male patients having a history of various sexual offenses.’ She alleges that she had repeatedly complained to supervisors that this Unit was understaffed, and had been cited by the Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) for understaffing 22 times in 2012. On a shift in early January 2012, the unit was staffed by only 2 female employees, failing to meet the Texas state law requirement of a 3 to 1 patient to staff ratio with at least one male staff member present. One of the patients was a 17 year old male evaluated as having severe impulsivity or explosive expression of anger, sexually reactive or offending behavior and a sexual behavior problem. Notwithstanding this evaluation, plaintiff asserts that this patient was not put under any special supervision or containment orders during his treatment at the facility. The plaintiff alleges she had not been warned about the patient’s ‘extensive and disturbing history.’ The plaintiff further alleges that the patient attacked her, placing her in a choke hold from behind and throwing her to the ground. The plaintiff alleges that the patient choked her into temporary unconsciousness, stole the keys from around her neck and fled the premises. The attack was recorded on an unmonitored video camera. The case is ongoing, with a motion for dismissal hearing scheduled for September 22, 2014.