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LHSC to review use of armbands to ID patients with ‘potential for violence’

Officials with the London Health Sciences Centre say they're reviewing a policy that identifies patients with the potential for violent behaviour with armbands.
Officials with the London Health Sciences Centre say they're reviewing a policy that identifies patients with the potential for violent behaviour with armbands. Caiaimage/Sam Edwards

Nearly nine months after first implementing a policy to identify patients who have the potential for violent behaviour, officials with the London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC) say they’re reviewing the approach.

In May 2018, LHSC says it instituted the policy of giving those patients with the “potential for violence” armbands to identify them. Officials say patients have the option to refuse the armband and in that situation, staff will work to find an alternative way of identifying them to members of staff.

The hospital also notes patients have the right to appeal the designation at any time.

READ MORE: Overcrowding concerns continue at London Health Science Centre

In a statement released by LHSC on its website, officials say the decision was required in a negotiated settlement with the Ontario Labour Relations Board.

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“The policy, which applies to all patients receiving care at LHSC, and its embedded Behaviour Safety Alert (BSA) process continue to be a priority for LHSC as we uphold our commitment to ensuring the safety of all individuals receiving care, working at, or visiting our hospital. At the same time, LHSC has also remained committed to listening to our patients and their families as we continued to work meaningfully with our care teams to determine what steps could be taken to address any concerns, while still honouring the terms of the settlement agreement.”

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However, concerns over how the policy impacts patient privacy were raised.

The policy was criticized by privacy and mental health activists, and led to three complaints to the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal, according to the London Free Press.

LHSC officials say they’ll continue to run in-person consultations with patients and their families and are in the process of analyzing data from a six-month period to further understand the impact of the policy.

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The goal is to have the consultation and analysis of the data finished by this spring.

The findings will be presented to relevant committees for review, including LHSC’s Joint Health and Safety Committee.

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