EDITOR, Daily News:
As a mental health advocate, one of my goals has been to educate the Legislature, the Alaska Mental Health Trust and the Alaska Mental Health Board that disabled psychiatric patients are unnecessarily mistreated for the following reasons: the state and others make decisions concerning the care of disabled psychiatric patients with insufficient information and poor state laws and regulations that are not properly designed to protect approximately 10,000 acute care psychiatric patients annually.
In the legislative session in 2020, here is what the Legislature does not know — there are over 30 private psychiatric facilities or units that do evaluations or treatment of approximately 10,000 individuals annually. The state does not know how many patients filed a complaint or the type of complaint — how many patients were injured during treatment or transportation — the number of patients that faced a traumatic event. The state does no exit polls of patient satisfaction.
The Department of Health and Social Services changed regulations so they would no longer be required to collect and review the contents of the patient grievance and appeal processes provided to private psychiatric facilities or units. Alaska has never established a grievance or appeal process.
In 2015, the legislative legal office stated AS47.30.660 (b) (13) allowed the state to turn the disabled over to private psychiatric facilities or units with an insufficient state standard of care. To add to a bad system, the state does not keep statistics concerning patient mistreatment.
Over 95% of psychiatric patient complaints are not reviewed by an impartial agency. The complaints include physical mistreatment, sexual abuse allegations, medication errors, etc.
I have been locked in psychiatric facilties. I know what mistreatment is first hand. The Legislature should help by revising AS47.30.660 (b) (13) to contain a sufficient state standard of patient care and overslight, including gathering statistics.