Harms to Consumers of Inpatient Psychiatric Facilities in the United States: An Analysis of News Articles [2018]

Inpatient psychiatric facilities in the United States lack systematic regulation and monitoring of a variety of patient safety concerns. We conducted a qualitative analysis of 61 news articles to identify common causes and types of harms within inpatient psychiatric facilities, with a focus on physical harm. The news articles reported on patient self-harm, patient-patient violence, and violence between patients and staff, noting that youth, older adults, and veterans were especially vulnerable. Harms occurred throughout the care continuum — at admission, during the inpatient stay, and at discharge — and retaliation towards whistleblowers deterred facility accountability. We recommend 1) addressing staffing shortages, 2) instituting systematic monitoring of critical incidents and the experiences of consumers and staff, 3) improving both inpatient safety and post-discharge community supports, and 4) continued journalistic coverage of harms within inpatient psychiatric facilities.

Morgan C. Shields , MSc. Ph.D. Student, Hailey Reneau , B.A., Sasha M. Albert , MSc., Leeann Siegel , MPH & Nhi-Ha Trinh , MD, MPH
Issues in Mental Health Nursing, Volume 39, 2018 – Issue 9