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Letter: Improve grievance rights for psych patients

Posted: February 9, 2014 - 1:09am

As mental health advocates, we support the efforts of House Bill 214 to improve psychiatric patient rights and grievance procedure law.

There are approximately 225 patient complaints filed at Alaska Psychiatric Institute each year. Some of the complaints are as follows: denial of basic rights; medication errors; physical abuse; sexual misconduct; safety concerns; lack of respect and dignity.

This is only an estimate of the state-wide complaints by patients, so it could be as high as 700 each year.

Psychiatric patients cannot file a grievance in a fair way because AS47.30.847 and 7AAC12.890(d) simply tells psychiatric institutions and clinics to write a patient grievance procedure however they want. Those procedures can be revised whenever. Another problem is how institutions choose the impartial body that hears a patient’s complaint.

The opponents of HB214 are going to tell you about the Federal government and the Joint Commission for the Accreditation of Hospital Organizations — both have an absolutely poor history of protecting psychiatric patients.

We are asking the legislature to improve grievance rights for all psychiatric patients.

Dorrance Collins and Faith Myers

Mental health advocates

Anchorage

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