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US Patent # RE42,991 & RE44,039 August 2017 
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This Month's Article 

What is a Sentinel Event?

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What is a Sentinel Event? 

The Joint Commission defines sentinel events as occurrences to patients in medical facilities “…involving death or serious physical or psychological injury, or the risk thereof." As you will note from the pie chart above, patient suicides are a comparatively frequent sentinel event identified by The Joint Commission. The Door SwitchTM was developed to mitigate the most common method of suicide employed in medical facilities—hanging using a door as a ligature point.

Please visit The Joint Commission for more information on sentinel events.

About Us 

The Door SwitchTM is the original top-of-the door ligature attempt warning system and holds U.S. Patents RE 42,991 and RE 44,039. We have been serving mental health professionals since 2006.

Each Door SwitchTM is a pressure sensor activated by approximately one to two pounds of downward pressure applied to the top, rather than the face (front or back surfaces), of the door. With system activation at the top of the door, ligature devices applied from either side of the door result in system alerts. Hospital staff are notified of system alerts by a combination of audible alarms, strobes, and door identification provided at a keypad typically located at a nurses’ station. The system utilizes proven Honeywell electronic components, including the Honeywell Vista 128BPT panel as the controller.

The Honeywell Vista 128BPT control panel provides an event log that records the times and dates of 512 events. The controller records the application of pressure to one of the system’s Door SwitchesTM, the removal of that pressure, and the turning of a key switch to silence the alarm. Logged events can be viewed from the keypad or downloaded to a computer and printed.

The Door SwitchTM has been installed in mental health facilities across the country. We are proud to state that we have many satisfied mental health facility clients and can provide you with their contact information for reference purposes.

For additional information, a demonstration of The Door SwitchTM, or a free quote, please call or email us.  

Open Door Policy
Good or Bad?

According to the journal, The Lancet Psychiatry, locked doors in mental heath hospitals are no more effective at preventing patient suicide than open doors. This study took place over a 15-year period where 145,000 patient cases were assessed in 21 different German hospitals between 1998 and 2012. The study findings were published July 2016. The purpose of this large observational study was to examine the association between locked- or open-door policies and the rates of suicide, suicide attempts, and absconding patients.

Patients who were treated on an open ward were less likely to attempt suicide than patients who were treated on a locked ward, but there was no difference in the likelihood of patients completing suicide. Patients treated on open and day clinic wards had a lower likelihood of absconding, either with or without returning, compared with locked and partly locked wards.


Though the authors caution that findings may vary by country, the overall results raise an important question for mental health services worldwide. The profession has increasingly relied on locked-door policies and restricting patients’ personal freedom to keep them from self-harm. This study suggests that practice may be misguided. The authors suggest that an open-door policy may foster a better therapeutic atmosphere and thus promote better health outcomes for people on psychiatric wards.

According to Dr Christian Huber of the Universitäre Psychiatrische Kliniken Basel, Basel, Switzerland, "These findings suggest that locked-door policies may not help to improve the safety of patients in psychiatric hospitals, and are not generally successful in preventing people from absconding. In fact, a locked-door policy probably imposes a more oppressive atmosphere, which could reduce the effectiveness of treatments, resulting in longer stays in hospital. The practice may even lend motivation for patients to abscond."  

Professor Tom Burns of the Department of Psychiatry at the Warneford Hospital, University of Oxford, Oxford UK, says: "Throughout western psychiatry we are witnessing a shift to ever more compulsion and control. National variations seem to reflect local customs and tradition, rather than any demonstrated differences in patient characteristics and needs. At its most basic, this increased compulsion reflects a casualness about patients' rights that calls for urgent attention--virtually every national code of practice is committed to the concept of the least restrictive alternative. This increase in control might also indicate a more worrying trend--a neglect of attention to establishing trusting relationships with troubled and severely mentally ill individuals. If we lose the emphasis on this core skill from our training and practice, it could be very difficult to re-establish. Therapeutic engagement and continuity of care need to move back up our profession's priorities."

ew facilities and design teams are focused and dedicated to providing this therapeutic environment. Products that protect the patient and keep the standard of care intact while still providing a non-invasive environment are becoming more and more available. While there is no gold standard, facilities have many options to help them keep patients safe and maintain the healthy environment.

The Door Switch continues to be committed to better practices and procedures in mental health community.  For information concerning our safety product, please click here

To read the full article, click here.


The Door SwitchTM  



The Door SwitchTM 
11772 Westline Industrial Drive
St. Louis MO 63146

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US Patent No. RE42,991 and RE44,039

 US Patent No. RE42,991 & RE44,039                                                                                    

11772 Westline Industrial Drive
Saint Louis, MO 63146
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