Hospital Staff Demands Increased Safety, Change in Restraints Policies

AFSCME union workers at the Minnesota Security Hospital want more freedom to use restraints on unruly patients.

Workers at a Minnesota state hospital are demanding a change in policies after a spike in staff injuries this year.

Union workers at St. Peter’s Minnesota Security Hospital, which houses 373 of the state’s most violent and mentally ill patients, are asking for the ability to use restraints more freely as assaults on staff members are on the rise.

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Members of the Local 404 Chapter of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) union called the amount of assaults of hospital staffers in 2015 unprecedented and argued mobile restraints should be used in cases where patients exhibit violent behavior, according to winonadailynews.com.

Mobile restraints are cuffs attached to a belt around a patient’s waist to prevent assaults on staff members and other patients.

Hospital security policies changed in 2011 when a Minnesota Department of Human Services review found staff overused seclusion and restraint tactics on patients. That review found staff would restrain patients in nonemergency situations and for long periods of time. Now the policy allows for restraints only in self-defense.

RELATED: 8 Verbal Indicators of Violence

Since the policy change patient’s average time in restraints or seclusion has dropped significantly while assaults on staff members have increased.

Some members of the mental health community argue restraint and seclusion tactics should only be used when there is a clear and imminent risk.

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