State Human Services Moves To Ban Prone Restraint

Rule Would Affect All Youth, And Adult Providers After Law Banning Procedure Failed To Pass Legislature

The Colorado Department of Human Services is moving forward with a state rule change that would ban prone restraint statewide after the CALL7 Investigators exposed the death of a patient at Colorado Mental Health Institute at Pueblo caused by the restraint.

The move comes after the Legislature failed to pass a ban during the last session. CDHS executive director Reggie Bicha said he believes the administrative ban affecting his department and all private agencies providing services for CDHS will save lives.

“The Legislature said that they were not going to change the law in this regard, so now the ball is in my court, if you will, and our partners’ to make the necessary changes,” Bicha told CALL7 Investigator John Ferrugia.

The legislation would have banned the prone restraint, where a patient is held facedown with arms and legs restrained. The 7NEWS investigation showed that the restraint can cause patients to suffocate when their bodies exert pressure on their chest area, making it difficult to breathe.

Troy Geske died after being held in the prone position at CMHIP and the CALL7 investigation found the restraint had been previously banned in other CDHS facilities because it was dangerous.

After the reports, CDHS banned the procedure at all their facilities. Now, Bicha wants a rule banning prone restraint at all public and private facilities that serve youth and adult populations.

“What we’re doing is moving forward and working with the provider agencies as well as our county partners to address regulatory changes that will result in the discontinuation of the prone restraint in all programs in the State of Colorado,” Bicha said.

Bicha said he wants to make sure the people who work with patients are trained in new techniques before banning the prone restraint because it might be more dangerous to ban the restraint without providing alternatives.

Some contractors have opposed the rule, but Bicha said he will go forward.

“I anticipate that we will go through the rule, and eventually our contractors will support the rules that are in place,” he said.

Bicha has set no timeline to implement the rule.

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