A 15-year-old psychiatric patient from Laurel raced past a University of Maryland Medical Center employee assigned to watch him and used a pen to attack a 74-year-old woman recovering from surgery in a nearby room, police said.
She died the next day and police said they were awaiting the results of an autopsy to confirm the exact cause of death.
Andrew Gaudet is charged as an adult with attempted murder, and authorities were reviewing what new charges to bring.
An incident report said Gaudet was in a sixth-floor hospital room when he rushed across the hall into the female patient’s room, picked up a pen and repeatedly stabbed her in the face, and punched her at least one time.
The incident occurred around 9:30 p.m. Wednesday night. The woman succumbed to her injuries at 6:55 p.m. Thursday at Shock Trauma Center, police said, and homicide detectives have taken over the case.
Reached Friday morning, the deceased woman’s husband identified her as Kathleen Walker, of Aberdeen, and said his wife was a retired school teacher. He declined to comment further.
The incident was not publicly disclosed by the hospital when it occurred. On Friday, a spokeswoman for the University of Maryland Medical Center said: “This is a difficult time and we are doing everything we can to provide comfort to the family and the staff that witnessed the attack and intervened."
The hospital said it is cooperating with Baltimore Police.
The police report said Gaudet was being treated at the hospital for a psychiatric condition and for orthopedic care. Witnesses said that before charging into the victim’s room, Gaudet had been pacing, and the employee watching him asked him to sit down.
After rushing by the employee and across the hall, Gaudet struck Walker in the head with a closed fist while holding the pen, police said. Her husband and hospital staff tried to pull him away as he attacked her. A nurse was punched several times in the face, the report says.
Staff tried to pull Walker away instead, but Gaudet held onto the bed and did not allow them to move her. Eventually staffers were able to pull her bed out of the room.
Witnesses told police that Gaudet had a “blank” and “unemotional” expression as they pleaded with him to stop, the report says.
Lisa Clough, the hospital’s director of media relations, said that the patient, who was being treated for unspecified orthopedic problems in addition to the psychiatric issues, and was not separated from other patients.
“Patients with psychiatric needs in addition to their immediate medical needs will receive care simultaneously on the medical unit on which their care is being delivered,” Clough said in a written response to questions from The Sun. “Protocols related to patients receiving psychiatric treatment vary depending on the patient’s status and diagnosis. All applicable protocols were utilized in the care of this patient."
Hospital emergency rooms across the state struggle with providing care for people with mental health and substance use problems. The Sun reported in 2018 that the problem has been brewing for decades, as the state closed many of its public mental health facilities in an effort to deinstitutionalize care. The number of state-run psychiatric beds has dropped by nearly 80 percent since the 1980s, and emergency rooms are charged with stabilizing mental health patients before handing them off to community-based treatment.
Gaudet eventually was placed in restraints and placed under police supervision. Following the initial assault, he was charged as an adult with attempted murder. Police were conferring with prosecutors about next steps.
Clough said that the hospital reported the incident to the Office of Health Care Quality on Thursday. The Joint Commission’s Office of Quality and Patient Safety, the main accreditation agency for U.S. hospitals, said it would review the incident as well.
Sun reporter Meredith Cohn contributed to this article.