Safety protocol reduces self-harm for at-risk emergency room patients

The implementation of a safety protocol helped to reduce self-harm for high-risk patients in the emergency department, according to findings published in the January issue of The Joint Commision Journal on Quality and Patient Safety. 

A research team from Boston-based Massachusetts General Hospital developed the following safety precautions: created safe bathrooms, increased the number and training of observers, managed access to belongings, managed clothing search or removal, and implemented additional interventions for particularly high-risk patients. 

They compared the number of self-harm events in the 12 months before and after the safety protocol was implemented. Before the protocol, there were 13 instances of attempted self-harm among 4,408 high-risk patients and six that resulted in actual self-harm. After the protocol was enacted, there were six episodes of self-harm among 4,523 high-risk patients, with one resulting in actual self-harm. 

Researchers conclude that "comprehensive safety precautions can be successfully developed and implemented in the emergency department." 


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