Former UPMC nurse sues, claims disability mistaken for impairment, drugged against will

A former UPMC employee’s lawsuit against the healthcare giant claims Western Psych staff mistook his disability for an alcohol or drug impairment and injected him with an antipsychotic against his will.

Aaron Diamond, a former charge nurse for UPMC Western Psych’s eating disorder unit, filed a lawsuit against UPMC, Western Psych and two employees for an alleged incident in March 2021 in which he said he ended up being involuntarily committed and then was coerced into resigning.

He is claiming a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act, false imprisonment, assault and battery and invasion of privacy.

In the lawsuit, Diamond said he has impairments and disabilities that affect his speech and that he fully disclosed them to UPMC when he was hired. He said his disabilities did not prevent him from doing his job.

On the day of the alleged incident, Diamond said he started his shift and immediately became aware of a patient who was not receiving proper medical care and attention. He said many of the other patients were emotionally distraught because the patient wasn’t being attended to properly, so he took “immediate, urgent steps” before the patient suffered a “severe, possibly fatal” reaction.

Diamond said he resolved the issue and calmed the other patients.

Diamond said he was angry and frustrated, but remained professional in all of his actions and immediately reported the event to several employees, including his supervisor. He said that because of his disability, his speech and communication were affected.

Diamond said he was asked to meet with various employees, including his supervisor, and he thought it was to talk about the incident that occurred. Instead, he said they started to ask about his mental condition, implying that he was unstable and that he was impaired by drugs or alcohol. Diamond said he was not impaired and that his speech was impacted by his disability.

His supervisor asked him to submit a blood sample and Diamond refused, according to the complaint.

Diamond asked for a union representative and was refused, he alleges. Diamond said he wanted to take a short break and get some fresh air and asked to take a 10-minute break, which was declined, according to court documents.

Diamond got on the elevator and was immediately joined by his supervisor and other staff, according to the complaint. He attempted to go to the ground floor to take a break when another employee pushed the button for the fifth floor, which is used, among other things, for people deemed a security risk, according to the complaint.

As Diamond attempted to use the stairs, he was surrounded by staff, including his supervisor, who prevented him from leaving. He said his employee security badge was ripped off of him and his keys were forcibly taken from him.

He said an employee asked him to take an antipsychotic medication used to sedate mental health patients. When he refused, he said his supervisor said he would be restrained.

When Diamond again refused, he said multiple employees put their hands on him and forcibly restrained him, then injected him with an antipsychotic medication, according to the complaint.

He said he was then forcibly placed on a hospital gurney in a restraint, then lost consciousness, according to court documents.

While he was unconscious, he said one of the employees made an application to officials to subject him to an involuntary emergency mental health evaluation or “302.”

Diamond said while he was involuntarily committed, he was subjected to invasive testing and treatment, including blood draws, CT scans, an EKG, a mental health examination, and a full exam of his unclothed body. He said he was falsely diagnosed during the commitment because of medical personnel observing symptoms related to his disability.

At the end of the examination, a doctor found that he did not qualify for involuntary commitment, according to the lawsuit.

Diamond said he continues to suffer from severe physical, mental and emotional distress from the experience. He said that even though he was never disciplined and was called back to work, he was convinced by representatives of his union to apply for, and collect short-term disability benefits, and then coerced to resign his position, causing great monetary losses.

He is suing for damages for pain, suffering, medical expenses, lost income and attorney’s fees.

UPMC sent the following response to Channel 11:

“We believe the claims alleged in this lawsuit are without merit and we intend to defend them, but due to pending litigation we cannot discuss the details of the individual complaint.”