Article spotlights risk-reduction strategies to prevent patient self-harm

Patient self-harm represents “a challenging vulnerability” in nonpsychiatric health care facilities according to a recent article in the American Journal of Nursing. “Phone cords, plasticware, and pens—all items found on a typical hospital unit and all seemingly benign. Yet unchecked, each can be used by a patient to cause self-harm, with potentially devastating effects,” the author writes. Using data from the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Reporting System, patient safety analyst Kim Liberator summarizes self-harms occurring in the state over three years and outlines strategies and interventions nurses can employ to protect patients. Risk-reduction strategies include assessing and monitoring the patient, and empowering staff. One sample intervention: train those who observe high-risk patients to engage them in therapeutic conversations or activities such as playing cards.