June 16, 2014
Photo Credit: David Boyle in DC via Compfight cc
An alarming problem is spreading in many communities across the United States. Hospital emergency rooms are seeing a rise in the number of persons under mental distress being admitted, and they are not equipped to deal with them properly.
Kristin Jones, in a series for the Colorado Gazette, writes that while the demand for beds in psychiatric treatment facilities has gone up, that need has not been met by an increase in availability. This is a problem that is particularly troubling in rural areas.
For many individuals showing signs of severe mental distress, the emergency room is where they are taken. It goes without saying that those who’ve attempted suicide are frequently taken to a general hospital first for immediate care.
The Joint Commission Sentinel Event Database, which reports 827 inpatient suicides, shows 14.25 percent of reported incidents occurred in the non-behavioral health units of general hospitals. A total of 8.02 percent occurred in the emergency department.
Many of these facilities do not have a staff specifically trained to evaluate these patients properly, and provide the mental care they need. They also do not have a built environment designed to keep these patients, hospital staff, and other patients and their families safe.
Contractors, architects, and designers are in a position to at least help alleviate the problem with the built environment as more and more ligature resistant products are coming on the market all the time. Many of these products have evolved from the institutional designs of the past.
If you can show your client ligature resistant products that are not only functional, but also aesthetically pleasing, they might be more inclined to incorporate them throughout all patient areas.
While this is not a guaranteed solution to the problem of suicides in hospitals, it does at least make an area where patients are without supervision such as a bathroom, a much safer place.
In a patient bathroom you want to be sure you are using ligature resistant products such as robe and towel hooks, grab bars, mirrors, wash basins, faucets, soap dishes, paper roll holders, toilets and flush valves.
For those not as familiar with the special safety considerations that go along with caring for patients at risk of suicide, there is a tool available that could assist with design.
The National Association of Psychiatric Health Systems (NAPHS) published their recently updated Design Guide for the Built Environment of Behavioral Health Facilities.
As the title suggests, this guide was developed for behavioral health facilities, but hospitals could also benefit from some of the advice. The report is linked above for you to download.
To learn more about our Ligature Resistant BestCare products and other Whitehall products, visit us on the web. To contact your local rep, click on "Contact Us."
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