Man Claiming Ricin Poisoning Forces Waiting Room Evacuation at Washington Regional

FAYETTEVILLE (KFSM) --A man claiming to have been poisoned with ricin forced an evacuation at Washington Regional Medical Center  Wednesday morning (Nov. 22).

According to dispatchers with Fayetteville Police, the call came in at 5:26 a.m. when a man went into the emergency room and claimed he had been poisoned by ricin, which is a poison found naturally in castor beans. According to the CDC, if castor beans are chewed and swallowed, the released ricin can cause injury, or possibly death.

Assistant Chief to the Fayetteville Fire Department Tom Good said, "He [the patient] had a bag with a substance that was dropped in the chair. Emergency department personnel followed protocol exactly. They evacuated that room, isolated the individual into a decontamination room and notified us."

The Fayetteville Fire Department came in with the police department to continue the isolation until a sample could be taken from the bag.

"We determined that it was in fact not ricin," Good said. If the man was sick, it was from something else, according to Good. It is unclear if the man is still at the hospital.

Cpl. Tiffney Lindley with Fayetteville police said the man had ordered castor beans to grow the plant, and had no intent to make ricin. He had put the beans in a plastic bag in a drawer and forgot about them, according to Lindley. He woke up with a headache and got scared that he could have had ricin poisoning, so he went to the hospital to see if they could help him dispose of the beans and if he had been poisoned, Lindley said.

"Our investigation is complete and it was found no crime occurred,” Lindley said.

The fire department said the substance was not a danger to any of the other patients. "It was some type of bean, possibly castor beans, but we don't know that for certain," Good said. "Nobody here was ever in any danger, and the emergency department was never shut down. Only the waiting room at the very front. Patients were rerouted back into the emergency room."

Washington Regional Medical System released the following statement:

“Washington Regional Emergency Department staff handled the event commendably, and we greatly appreciate the prompt and professional response from the Fayetteville Fire Department Haz-Mat team and Fayetteville Police Department.”