Archive for May, 2017

Safe And Sound: The Inpatient View of Care and Suicide

A patients’ view of their quality of care is linked to fatalities

Texas suicide lawyerWe expect inpatient facilities to offer a high quality of care and focus on healing for the patients placed in their charge. Under any circumstance, a patient deserves to have a successful recovery, and not have to worry about their mental state deteriorating while in medical care. Unfortunately, that is not the reality often, and facilities need more eyes on the patient. Many are underfunded, staff underpaid and not motivated to perform delicate tasks that could mean life or death for a patient. A staff with a cold demeanor, a “locked” versus “unlocked” facility, and an overall level of safety have been shown to contribute to the level of suicides in inpatient units.

For every suicide, there is a family suffering the effects. One less seat at the dinner table, one less presence around the holidays. Our psychiatric healthcare system is advanced in some ways, but much still must be done, especially to address staff not fully engaged with patients. That’s where The Law Offices of Skip Simpson can help. Every patient and their loved ones have the right to be compensated for their losses due to malpractice.  Skip Simpson says: “Money is not the only issue; it is also holding health care providers accountable. Clients want to know what went wrong and why no one will tell them what went wrong—why do they cover up their bad decisions about protecting their loved ones?  What steps are being taken to fix the problem so it does not happen again?”

What responsibilities do staff undertake?

Keeping a patient stable and in sound mind as well as body is crucial to preventing a death by suicide while in the care of America’s nurses and psychiatric staff. As it stands, the American Psychiatric Nurses Association has care guidelines that outline the expectations and goals of each nurse in relation to their treatment of a patient. These are all integral to stabilizing someone at the risk of suicide, or suffering from a psychiatric condition . The goals include:

  • Manages their own personal reactions, attitudes and beliefs.
  • Is authentic in their intent to help
  • Recognizes the barrier between a patient’s desire to end pain via suicide and the nurse’s desire to help.
  • Views each patient as an individual
  • Makes a realistic assessment for the care of a suicidal, or potentially suicidal patient.

Nurses and healthcare staff take on quite a large role when they work in an inpatient unit or psychiatric facility. Someone’s life is literally in their hands. And how the patient interprets the level of care given to them is critical.

How do patients view their safety?

A suicidal, or potentially suicidal patient can easily be left behind in recovery if the proper care isn’t administered. A patient may want to end their psychological pain, which has become unbearable and affected their life to where every waking moment is sheer torture. This can be prevented if we recognize mental health as on par in the need for proper care as physical health. Patients with severe illnesses, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, PTSD, and eating disorders (the mental aspect of which must be addressed to protect the physical) deserve treatment personalized, and demonstrates true care and compassion.

In a study from 2012, there were 35,000 or more suicides per year in the US, with about 1800 being inpatient suicides; the CDC does not count these inpatient suicides, so only guesses are made. Of those, 75% occurred in the patient’s bedroom, a place where they are afforded a little privacy. Suicide watches are implemented, but without proper preventive care, a patient may still feel unsafe and isolated. When one feels this way, alone and in pain, a compassionate staff can make a huge difference in their recovery. What is worrisome is these suicides usually play out near the staff.

Bonds with staff and nurses are also important to help the patient regain and retain a state of mind conducive to mental healing. When provided with a “care team” (usually comprised of medical staff and a therapist, among others) or even caregivers they feel they can turn to in times of need, patients may turn to them for much-needed aid instead of a closed door. Feeling safe is imperative. A psychological issue or mental illness often contributes to a feeling of loneliness. When your mind plagues you, and you are hospitalized, you are entitled to the chance to feel safe. With a gap in this much-needed care, recovery can be difficult. And this slipup by the care system can prove fatal.

A patient’s needs

According to another study, the data extracted from surveys and record pulls showed that patients had a specified set of needs, most of which matched up with the list of care guidelines provided by the American Psychological Nurses Association. The sick must be tended to for them to recuperate and live productive lives, and their needs must be acknowledged.

  • “Lack of acknowledgment from observers” – a cold and neglectful staff can give the impression (often correctly) that the patient is not cared about, and further deepens their mental wounds. They may see themselves as a burden, or as if they deserved to be ignored. This only worsens suicidal thoughts.
  • Feelings of objectification – being observed without actual interaction can further impede a patient’s feeling of borderline imprisonment. Being poked and prodded at does nothing for their health. Without support, patients’ conditions may worsen.

According to Today’s Hospitalist, making a standard assessment, checking in on patients, not being distracted during work (reading books, writing, seeming disinterested, etc.) and making a joint effort between all providers can save lives. Placing patients on a medical unit where they can receive two forms of support and care at the same time may also be an incentive worth pursuing. Caregivers must uphold their titles and provide adequate care to the sick.

Don’t lose any more

A patient’s safety is a patient’s life, and they must view it as worthy of care and protection. When this is taken from their care, or neglected altogether, it can cause fatal consequences. Inpatient units see too many suicides that could be prevented by a caring staff, a bond with someone who feels alone and without compassion they may have been lacking for a long period of time. Suicidal patients are in pain, and the job of a caregiver is to help treat that pain, not make it worse.

Leaders set the tone and are directly responsible for poor care in their facilities.

If you or a loved one have suffered a loss as the result of negligence of malpractice in an inpatient unit, let us know. Contact us for a free case evaluation, and we will help you get the justice you deserve.