Don’t Tase ’em, bro

Modern Healthcare - - Outliers -

When all else fails, se­date them by read­ing from the pol­icy man­ual.

That ap­pears to be the con­clu­sion of a 55-page re­port is­sued by the Penn­syl­va­nia Depart­ment of Health af­ter it re­viewed four in­ci­dents with Tasers that oc­curred at Le­high Val­ley Hos­pi­tal. ( Out­liers is as­sum­ing it’s a con­clu­sion, as the word “con­clu­sion” never ap­pears in the re­port.)

Af­ter the re­port was is­sued Oct. 14, Le­high Val­ley se­cu­rity guards turned in their Tasers on Oct. 15 and await fur­ther or­ders from the Code Orange Task Force, which is work­ing with the Re­straint Man­age­ment Com­mit­tee and Net­work Safety Coun­cil on poli­cies and pro­ce­dures on how to han­dle pa­tients hav­ing “a be­hav­ior dyscon­trol event.”

The in­ci­dents—recorded as tak­ing place in 2008, 2009 and 2010—vi­o­lated CMS guid­ance against us­ing weapons in hos­pi­tals, the state re­port said. They in­volved an “ag­i­tated” pa­tient who had re­mained ag­i­tated de­spite be­ing med­i­cated three times with Ati­van, along with Hal­dol and Val­ium; a pa­tient “us­ing an IV pole as a weapon,” and oth­ers who al­legedly threw punches and/or at­tempted to bar­ri­cade them­selves in rooms.

A Le­high rep­re­sen­ta­tive was not avail­able to speak with Out­liers, though a hos­pi­tal state­ment pub­lished else­where noted that it does not com­plete- ly agree with the re­port find­ings, but agreed to stop us­ing Tasers while a di­a­logue con­tin­ues with the state on when they would be ap­pro­pri­ate.

No men­tions of the re­port or the in­ci­dents are read­ily ap­par­ent on the Le­high Val­ley web­site, but ex­am­ples of irony in­clude a Feb. 15 post of a lo­cal re­port from WFMZ tele­vi­sion in which the Le­high Val­ley se­cu­rity su­per­vi­sor is in­ter­viewed on the sub­ject of phys­i­cal al­ter­ca­tions and men­tions how guards carry Tasers, pep­per spray and hand­cuffs. “There’s a lot of stress in a hos­pi­tal en­vi­ron­ment,” he says.

Le­High Val­ley has hol­stered the Tasers for now.

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