By: Dewey Funk UNA Occupational Health & Safety Advisor
Imagine this scenario: A hospital in rural Alberta is brought a “Form 10 patient” by the RCMP for admission. The patient is aggressive. But the Mounties say they must leave the hospital because they have another urgent call.
A “Form 10 patient” is shorthand for a patient who has been apprehended by a peace officer who is satisfied the person is suffering from a mental disorder and is acting in a manner likely to cause self harm, harm to others or further serious impairment.
In such a situation, what are the responsibilities of the nurses at the site? Are they required to accept the patient?
These questions, in turn, require additional questions to be asked: Is your site a designated facility under the Mental Health Regulations? What is the medical condition of the patient? Does the patient have a physical medical condition that requires immediate medical attention?
If there are no physical medical conditions requiring immediate attention, why is the Form 10 patient being admitted and not redirected to a facility designated in the Mental Health Regulations?
Does your worksite have peace officers on site?
This doesn’t mean contract security employees if they do not have peace officer designations, and I am unaware of contract security employees in Alberta who are peace officers.
Please ask the contract security employees at your site if they have received and passed the requirements to be a peace officer and have received the designation. If there are no peace officers on site and your site is not a designated facility, and the patient is not downgraded to a Form 1 by a physician, how are you being supported by management?
You do have the right to refuse in such instances where there is no peace officer on duty and no immediate medical attention is required.
Occasionally, Form 10 patients have been left at hospitals because of police workloads. Health care employers need to stand up and support their nurses instead of insisting they take such patients.
It is unfair of management to insist that these patients are admitted, putting nurses at risk of injury and on top of this not supplying extra staff to assist with the dangers they may pose.
Regulations under the Mental Health Act state the following locations are designated facilities: Alberta Hospital Edmonton; Centennial Centre for Mental Health and Brain Injury; Peter Lougheed Centre; Foothills Medical Centre; Misericordia Community Hospital; Royal Alexandra Hospital; University of Alberta Hospital; Grey Nuns Community Hospital; Chinook Regional Hospital; Medicine Hat Regional Hospital; Northern Lights Regional Health Centre; Queen Elizabeth II Hospital; Rockyview General Hospital; Claresholm Centre for Mental Health and Addictions; Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre; Southern Alberta Forensic Psychiatry Centre; St. Therese-St. Paul Healthcare Centre; Villa Caritas; and South Health Campus.
I am asking you to contact me at the UNA provincial office and report all instances Form 10 patients are left at facilities that are not designated.
We need to start keeping a record so we can hold management accountable. To report these instances on the UNA webpage, go to the Occupational Health and Safety icon to report, or send me an email at email@example.com.
Nurses are not guards. Nurses are caregivers and should be treated with appropriate respect as caregivers.
This column was also published in the Summer 2017 issue of the UNA News Bulletin.