Patient safety event taxonomies provide a standardized framework for data classification and analysis. This taxonomy for inpatient psychiatric care was developed from existing literature, national standards, and content experts to align with the common formats used by the institution’s event reporting system. Four domains (provision of care, patient actions, environment/equipment, and safety culture) were identified, along with categories, subcategories, and subcategory details.
Riblet NB, Gottlieb DJ, Watts BV, et al. J Nerv Ment Dis. 2022;210:227-230.
Unplanned discharges (also referred to as leaving against medical advice) can lead to adverse patient outcomes. This study compared unplanned discharges across Veterans Health Affairs (VHA) acute inpatient and residential mental health treatment settings over a ten-year period and found that unplanned discharges are significantly higher in mental health settings. The authors recommend that unplanned discharges be measured to assess patient safety in mental health.
Brierley-Jones L, Ramsey L, Canvin K, et al. Res Involv Engagem. 2022;8:8.
Patient engagement in safety efforts is encouraged, but patients are less often included as active participants in designing patient safety interventions. This review identified 52 studies that included mental health patients in the design, delivery, implementation, and/or evaluation of patient safety research. The authors argue that increased inclusion of patients in safety research may lead to development of higher quality safety interventions.
Safety and quality of care for psychiatric patients is a relatively understudied area of patient safety research. This scoping review explores patient safety strategies used in psychiatry. The review identified seven key strategies that rely on staff performance, competence, and compliance – (1) risk management, (2) healthcare practitioners, (3) patient observation, (4) patient involvement, (5) computerized methods, (6) admission and discharge, and (7) security. These strategies primarily target reductions in suicide, self-harm, violence, and falls.
Anderson E, Mohr DC, Regenbogen I, et al. J Patient Saf. 2021;17:316-322.
Burnout and low staff morale have been associated with poor patient safety outcomes. This study focused on the association between organizational climate, burnout and morale, and the use of seclusion and restraints in inpatient psychiatric hospitals. The authors recommend that initiatives aimed at reducing restraints and seclusion in inpatient psychiatric facilities also include a component aimed at improving organizational climate and staff morale.
Researchers reviewed 15 years of root cause analysis reports of all instances of suicide and suicide attempts on Veterans Health Administration (VHA) grounds. Forty-seven suicides or suicide attempts were identified, and primary root causes included communication breakdown and a need for improved suicide interventions. The paper includes recommended actions to address the root causes of attempted and completed patient suicides.
Alshehri GH, Keers RN, Carson-Stevens A, et al. J Patient Saf. 2021;17:341-351.
Medication errors are common in mental health hospitals. This study found medication administration and prescribing were the most common stages of medication error. Staff-, organizational-, patient-, and equipment-related factors were identified as contributing to medication safety incidents.
Mackenhauer J, Winsløv J-H, Holmskov J, et al. Crisis. 2021;Epub May 19.
Prior research has found that patients who die by suicide often had recent contact with the healthcare setting. Based on a multi-year chart review at one institution, the authors concluded that suicide risk assessment and documentation in the heath record to be insufficient. The authors outline quality improvement recommendations focused on improving documentation, suicide assessment and intervention training, and improving communications with families, caregivers, and other health care providers.
Shao Q, Wang Y, Hou K, et al. J Adv Nurs. 2021;77:4005-4016.
Patient suicide in all settings is considered a never event. Nurses caring for the patient may experience negative psychological symptoms following inpatient suicide. This review identified five themes based on nurses’ psychological experiences: emotional experience, cognitive experience, coping strategies, self-reflection, and impact on self and practice. Hospital administrators should develop education and support programs to help nurses cope in the aftermath of inpatient suicide.
This study used qualitative methods to understand the experiences of former psychiatric patients that nursing staff considered challenging and that resulted in behavior management interventions (e.g., aggression, self-harm, inappropriate sexual behavior). Interviewed patients cited various reasons for these challenging behaviors, including communication difficulties related to their psychiatric symptoms, stressful feelings such as frustration and fear, coercive nursing culture and restrictive nursing practices. Strategies for managing these behaviors are discussed, as well as core competencies for delivering care based on patients’ needs.
Martin GP, Chew S, Dixon-Woods M. Health (London). 2021;25:757-774.
After findings of gross negligence, the National Health Service (NHS) introduced ‘Freedom to Speak Up Guardians’ to lead safety culture change with the ultimate goal that speaking up about safety issues becomes the norm. The authors used semi-structured interviews with 51 individuals (e.g., Guardians, clinicians, policymakers/regulators, etc.) to describe the rollout of the Guardians. These interviews revealed that the role of the Guardians is rich in potential but that the initial narrow role of addressing only quality and safety concerns was not consistent with the myriad of complex issues brought to them and may indicate the need to expand the role definition.
Mello MM, Frakes MD, Blumenkranz E, et al. JAMA. 2020;323:352-366.
This systematic review synthesized evidence from 37 studies to examine the association between malpractice liability risk and healthcare quality and safety. The review found no evidence of association between liability risk and avoidable hospitalizations or readmissions, and limited evidence supporting an association between risk and mortality (5/20 studies) or patient safety indicators or postoperative complications (2/6 studies).
This editorial proposes adapting a patient safety paradigm – Safety-I or Safety-II – to provide insights into suicidal behavioral, as it is a preventable outcome and health services play an important role in reducing its incidence. The new paradigm – Safety III – would incorporate on health services research combined with ethnography and strong patient/public involvement.
This exploratory systematic review aimed to describe the state of the research on patient safety in inpatient mental health settings. Authors included 364 papers, representing 31 countries and data from over 150,000 participants. The existing research base was categorized into ten broad safety categories – interpersonal violence, coercive interventions, safety culture, harm to self, safety of the physical environment, medication safety, unauthorized leave, clinical decision making, falls, and infection prevention/control; papers were of varying quality with the majority of papers assessed as “fair”. The authors note that several areas of patient safety in inpatient mental health are particularly understudied, such as suicide, as the review only yielded one study meeting inclusion criteria.
Cullen SW, Xie M, Vermeulen JM, et al. Med Care. 2019;57:913-920.
Various factors can impact patient safety risk in psychiatric settings. This study assessed the prevalence of AEs and MEs in community hospitals and Veterans Health Administration (VHA) hospitals and found that psychiatric inpatients at community hospitals were twice as likely to experience these patient safety events than VHA inpatients, even after controlling for patient and hospital characteristics.
Mokkenstorm JK, Kerkhof AJFM, Smit JH, et al. Suicide Life Threat Behav. 2018;48:745-754.
Suicide in all settings is considered a sentinel event. This commentary describes an aspirational suicide eradication program. The approach combines direct identification of suicidal behavior and treatment, system-focused process improvements, and organizational safety culture as interdependent strategies for eliminating suicide. A previous WebM&M commentary discussed a suicide attempt on an inpatient medical unit.
Prior research has shown that numerous factors may impact patient safety in the inpatient psychiatry setting. In this study involving 4371 patients admitted to 14 inpatient psychiatric units at acute care general hospitals, researchers found that older patients and those with longer length of stay were at increased risk for adverse events and medical errors.
Zaheer S, Ginsburg LR, Wong HJ, et al. BMJ Open Qual. 2018;7:e000433.
Establishing a culture of safety within health care organizations requires strong leadership support. This cross-sectional survey study of nurses, allied health professionals, and unit clerks working in the inpatient setting at a single hospital found that positive perceptions of senior leadership support for safety and positive perceptions of teamwork were associated with positive perceptions of patient safety. In addition, when staff perceived senior leadership support for safety to be lacking, the positive impact of direct managerial leadership on staff perceptions of patient safety was more pronounced.
Cleary M, Lees D, Lopez V. Issues Ment Health Nurs. 2018;39:980-982.
Effective apology behaviors improve opportunities for error resolution for clinicians, patients, and families. This commentary highlights the importance of expressing empathy, considering legal implications, and demonstrating individual, leadership, and organizational support of open disclosure.
Keers RN, Plácido M, Bennett K, et al. PLoS One. 2018;13:e0206233.
This interview study used a human factors method, the critical incident technique, to identify underlying factors in medication administration errors in a mental health inpatient facility. The team identified multiple interconnected vulnerabilities, including inadequate staffing, interruptions, and communication challenges. The findings underscore the persistence of widely documented medication safety administration concerns.
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