Though preventive measures and increased staffing are two important measures to aid patients at risk for suicide, they are no longer the only solutions anymore. Design-based solutions that are specific to the behavioral health field and vary widely from general hospital needs are key now. Though prevention, correct diagnosis, and extra staffing are extremely helpful, design-based solutions in the facility itself are the frontline of safety now. In fact, The American Psychiatric Association and the Veterans Hospital Administration have deemed unreliable the tools used by healthcare professionals to evaluate suicide risk in patients. Therefore, facility considerations should assume all patients will be at risk and all design should be as suicide-resistant as possible.
This finding has brought drastic change in the behavioral health industry and how they approach patient safety. In particular, past protocol of many health facilities that have relied mostly on staff and admission procedures to determine patient safety is changing. For instance, facilities used to rely on the cost saving measure of providing the unit a few more specialized rooms within view of the nurse station for patients considered to be at risk for suicide attempts. But this approach not only puts additional strain on the staff to be everywhere at once, it is not always reliable.
Failing to consider design-based solutions possible in behavioral health facilities can expose patients to increased risk, pose challenges to the staff entrusted with their care and add unnecessary long-term costs as these risks are mitigated with operational strategies, such as increased staffing.
Behavioral Healthcare reports there are tools available to minimize the ligature risk of tight fitting doors, which are required by code and are often considered an unavoidable risk factor. These include pressure sensors, which would alarm to a central station. Anti-ligature door hardware is also available. The Door Switch is a product that provides a tool for patient safety and aids the staff and current prevention measures already in place.
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The Door Switch wants to continue the fight for more awareness and provide additional resources to dispel the myths about mental health issues and solutions for safety issues. We also continue to strive to provide a product that keeps the hospital environment safe. We continue to be committed to better practices and procedures in mental health community. For information concerning our safety product, please click here.