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.
Martin K, Bickle K, Lok J. Int J Mental Health Nurs. 2022;31:897-907.
Cognitive biases can compromise decision making and contribute to poor care. In this study, nurses were provided two patient vignettes as well as associated clinical notes written using either biased or neutral language and asked to make clinical decisions regarding PRN (“as needed”) medication administration for sleep. The study identified a relationship between biased language and clinical decision-making (such as omitting patient education when administering PRN medications).
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.
Waddell AE, Gratzer D. Can J Psychiatry. 2022;67:246-249.
Safety gaps in mental health care offers a limited view if focused primarily on patient suicide. This commentary calls for Canadian psychiatric professionals to examine the safety of their patients from a system perspective to develop a research and practice improvement strategy.
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.
Alshehri GH, Ashcroft DM, Nguyen J, et al. Drug Saf. 2021;44:877-888.
Adverse drug events (ADE) can occur in any healthcare setting. Using retrospective record review from three mental health hospitals, clinical pharmacists confirmed that ADEs were common, and that nearly one-fifth of those were considered preventable.
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.
Hunt DF, Bailey J, Lennox BR, et al. Int J Ment Health Syst. 2021;15:33.
Psychological safety has been widely studied in a variety of settings, clinical areas, and patient outcomes. This commentary lays out the benefits of safety culture and how it can be implemented organization-wide, with a particular focus on mental health organizations. Specific interventions are discussed, including family involvement, leadership communication, and simulation.
Tyler N, Wright N, Panagioti M, et al. Health Expect. 2021;24:185-194.
Transitions of care represent a vulnerable time for patients. This survey found that safety in mental healthcare transitions (hospital to community) is perceived differently by patients, families, and healthcare professionals. While clinical indicators (e.g., suicide, self-harm, and risk of adverse drug events) are important, patients and families also highlighted the social elements of transitional safety (e.g., loneliness, emotional readiness for change).
Patient safety is an emerging focus within the mental health field. This qualitative study highlights three themes of perceived safe clinical care for patients in a suicidal crisis – being recognized as suicidal, receiving personalized treatment, and adapting care to meet fluctuating behaviors.
Cutler NA, Sim J, Halcomb E, et al. J Clin Nurs. 2020;29:4379-4386.
An important element of providing patient-centered care is enhancing patient perceptions of safety. This qualitative study explored how nurses influence perceptions of safety among patients admitted for acute mental health care. Findings suggest that nurses can improve patients’ sense of safety by being available, responsive, and caring towards patients, while also focusing on management of risk.
Sharma AE, Yang J, Del Rosario JB, et al. Jt Comm J Qual Patient Saf. 2021;47:5-14.
Ambulatory care settings are receiving increased attention as a focus for patient safety improvements. Using data from a multistate patient safety organization (PSO) database, the researchers sought to characterize patterns and characteristics of patient safety incidents reported in ambulatory care settings. Analyses found that 5.9% of events resulted in severe harm and 1.9% resulted in patient death. Over half of the events were from outpatient subspecialty care; fewer events occurred in home/community (5.2%), primary care (2.1%), or dialysis (2.0%) settings. Medication-related events were most common, followed by clinical deterioration and falls. Predictors of higher harm included diagnostic errors, patient/caregiver challenges, and events occurring in home/community or psychiatric settings. These results can help ambulatory care settings target safety events and develop systems-level prevention strategies.
Mills PD, Soncrant C, Gunnar W. BMJ Qual Saf. 2021;30:567-576.
This retrospective analysis used root cause analysis reports of suicide events in VA hospitals to characterize suicide attempts and deaths and provide prevention recommendations. Recommendations include avoidance of environmental hazards, medication monitoring, control of firearms, and close observation.
Berzins K, Baker J, Louch G, et al. Health Expect. 2020;23:549-561.
This qualitative study interviewed patients and caregivers about their experiences and perceptions of safety within mental health services. These interviews identified a broad range of safety issues; the authors suggest that patient safety in mental health services could be expanded to include harm caused trying to access services and self-harm provoked by contact with, or rejection from, services.
Wyder M, Ray MK, Roennfeldt H, et al. Int J Qual Health Care. 2020;32:285-291.
This systematic review examined common systems factors affecting suicide deaths in mental health care. Seven themes contributing to suicide deaths were identified: (1) inappropriate or incomplete risk assessment; (2) lack of family involvement; (3) inadequate transitions and communication between different care teams; (4) lack of adherence to policies and procedures; (5) treatment not in line with current guidelines; (6) access to means and observation and; (7) lack of specialist services within the community.
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