Hospital Murder Highlights Need for De-escalation Training

De-escalation is crucial to winding down volatile incidents.

By Jeff Wardon, Jr., Assistant Editor

Violent incidents are on the rise at many healthcare facilities, and organizations can be left wondering how to respond appropriately to them. There are situations in behavioral healthcare facilities that can be volatile, whether it be with patients, visitors or staff. There is a way to respond to such situations: de-escalation. 

Consider a recent incident at Western State Hospital in Lakewood, Washington. Jason Conrad Day, a 53-year-old man, was charged with strangling his 69-year-old roommate, Stephen Kellogg, to death, according to The News Tribune. Day pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity and was acquitted. A doctor determined that Day, who has a history of mental illness including paranoia, was legally insane at the time of the act. This incident occurred in a higher-security unit for patients with good behavior, where Day and Kellogg resided. Day had been previously involved in incidents at the hospital, including biting and choking another patient.  

Related: De-escalation Training is Critical for Safety in Healthcare

There are five proven tactics for de-escalation training, says AlGene Caraulia, vice president of integration and sustainability at the Crisis Prevention Institute:  

  1. Assess risks by conducting a rigorous assessment of the facility’s safety and readiness to respond to disputes. 
  2. Involve leadership so that they are committed to prioritizing and reinforcing de-escalation training. 
  3. Establish a committee of diverse teams so they can bring in their various perspectives and experiences on making a safer healthcare environment. 
  4. Develop a plan and policies so managers can work with the established committee to create and put forth a plan with actionable steps. 
  5. Create a reporting system for incidents involving patient escalation and encourage open communication. 

Jeff Wardon, Jr. is the assistant editor for the facilities market. 

March 13, 2024

Topic Area: Safety

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