Reducing suicide and deliberate self-harm in mental health in patient units

  • 6 Feb 2018

Recommendations have been made in the coronial jurisdiction following an inquest into the death of a patient in a declared mental health inpatient unit. These are of interest to those in mental health services as they provide useful guidelines and initiatives for the improvement of services and risk management.

The Coroner stated that mental health in-patient facilities are encouraged to have in place policies and procedures to ensure:

  1. an appropriate skill mix of nursing staff in mental health units to ensure adequate patient engagement and observation;
  2. communication amongst all mental health staff regarding the changing of patient observation level and status and the reasons for this;
  3. the clear identification of staff assigned responsibility for individual patient care and recording of observations;
  4. documentation of patient engagement and observation contemporaneously as opposed to “block recording”;
  5. regular auditing to ensure adherence to policy and procedure; and
  6. ongoing education programs to enhance development and maintenance of procedural knowledge and skill sets.

Of note, the Ministry of Health has granted funding to the Black Dog Institute for a clinical trial of back-to-base pulse oximetry for those considered to be at active risk of suicide to allow a reliable technological back-up to nursing engagement.

Post by Claudine Watson-Kyme and Karen Kumar

Most Popular Articles


Service of Notices by Registered Post

Where service of a notice is authorised or required by post, unless the contrary intention appears, service will be deemed to be effected at the time when the notice would be delivered in the ordinary course of post: see the various Acts Interpretation acts of the States and Commonwealth.

Medical manslaughter - The Australian Experience

Medical manslaughter has come into the spotlight in the last week following the recent decision in England to deregister a medical practitioner after she was found guilty of manslaughter in 2015.

Changes to the way impairment is assessed

From 1 April 2016, there will be changes to the way in which whole person impairment (WPI) is assessed, as the NSW Workers Compensation Guidelines for the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment, 4th edition take effect.

Subscribe to Our Blog

Keeping you connected, Hicksons regularly publishes articles to keep you up to date on the latest developments. To receive these updates via email, please subscribe below and indicate which areas of law you would like to receive information on.