September 20, 2019

Standing room only at the latest Safe Practice Forum

It was standing room only last Wednesday in the main lecture theatre for our Safe Practice Forum. This month, the theme was ‘Standard 5: Comprehensive Care’ – focusing on minimising our patients’ harm.

Liz McKeown, Accreditation Officer, said the National Safety and Quality Health Service (NSQHS) Standards now require us to apply targeted strategies to prevent and minimise the risk of any specific harms.

“Our patients, for example, might exhibit unpredictable behaviours such as aggression, self-harm or violence, that have the potential to lead to greater harm, to themselves, patients and others. We need to have in place systems that can help us identify these situations and apply strategies to mitigate their risk,” she said.

The latest Safe Practice Forum explored the theme of ‘Predicting, preventing and managing self-harm and suicide’ and coincided with Northern Health’s Conversations on Mental Wellness Week.

Dean Pritchard, Deputy Director, Emergency Department, opened the session with some confronting suicide data and contextualised how we ‘need to know a little about everything…’ and are expected to know enough to reliably keep our patients safe.

“The session highlighted the importance of having a structure in place to detect and prevent self-harm and suicide for our patients,” he said.

The two patient cases Dean shared emphasised our need to remove the means, closely monitor, reduce abscond opportunities and optimise the environment.

Liz drew on these two patient cases to provide a thorough background to the recent development of our Comprehensive Assessment and Risk Evaluation (CARE) Record.

The escalation points in the CARE Record for different members of the care team were stressed and real-life examples of current escalations provided.

“Recent situations have highlighted the need to comprehensively assess patients at risk of suicide and self harm and provide individualised plans of care to keep them safe,” she said.

Clare McCarthy, Project Manager, said our Safe Practice Forum has a crucial role in patient safety.

“The forum allows us to reframe errors in the system — it helps us move beyond the myth that individual culpability is the single source of harm and allows us to see other contributing factors, that are usually systemic. It fosters a learning environment and gives clinicians a system perspective. This is fundamental to our high reliability organising endeavour,” she said.

“A special thanks goes to our NorthWestern Mental Health colleagues who shared their experience and expertise at the session. We look forward to further collaborative work with them,” Clare added.

Even the stairs were occupied. And the fruit boxes were a hit!

Featured Image: Dean Pritchard, Deputy Director, Emergency Department and Liz McKeown, Accreditation Officer