Illness episode vs treatment outcome: questions regarding safety

Date09 December 2011
Published date09 December 2011
AuthorMalik Abdur‐Razzaq
Subject MatterHealth & social care
Illness episode vs treatment outcome:
questions regarding safety
Malik Abdur-Razzaq
Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to increase the knowledge of nurses assigned to mental health
patients, improve the number of patients referred, and to accurately assess the appropriateness of
patients referred to psychiatric screening centers.
Design/methodology/approach – The study used a quantitative and qualitative design to examine
clinical practices of nurses assigned to triage and crisis duties at the selected screening center.
A combined experimental, as well as a review of clinical best practices, offereda perspective on trends,
chronology, acuity of a mental illness, the number of times a patient is seen on a psychiatric screening
unit, and factors leading up to the referral. The study also included an evaluation of an education module
to identify best practices for teaching and testing suicidality triage information among nurses.
Findings – Findings were inconclusive in that many hospitalsand screening centers in the state of New
Jersey exercise their specific/exclusive policies and practices in the management of their populations,
despitespecific screeninglaws that are supposed to governall mental health facilitiesthroughout the state.
Research limitations/implications Hospital administrators are not always open to scrutiny and
investigation of their clinical practices.
Originality/value – There have been limited research studies on the effectiveness of psychiatric
screening law and safety of mental health patients in New Jersey.
Keywords Mental health patients, Nurses, Psychiatrists, Crisis specialists, Triage, Medical treatment
Paper type Research paper
This study examines symptom behavior, assessment, and safety of mental health patients at
local, county, and state hospitals as well as screening centers in the state of New Jersey
(USA). The role of the crisis specialist/screener is to evaluate mental health patients
while determining if they should be discharged from a crisis screening center with referrals to
a community mental health facility or if they meet criteria for hospitalization that is supported
by acuity of their initial presentation to psychiatric screening. Illness predicament is,
therefore, factored into the assessment and is based on orientation to person, place, and date
as well as appearance, thought, mood, affect, insight, and memory in recalling their present
circumstance. Additional mental health clinical descriptors that assist the psychiatric
screener in describing the problem consist of the following:
BDoes the patient have a previous suicidal and or homicidal attempt?
BAre there any previous attempts to harm self or others?
BWhat was the most recent attempt to harm self or others?
BWhat methods were used and the severity of that use?
BDoes the patient have access to lethal weapons?
BWas there a plan to complete the suicide?
BWhat was the intent?
DOI 10.1108/13619321111202359 VOL. 16 NO. 4 2011, pp. 197-204, QEmerald Group Publishing Limited, ISSN 1361-9322
PAGE 197
Malik Abdur-Razzaq is a
Director of Adult Mental
Health Treatment at The
Drenk Center, Hainesport,
New Jersey, USA.

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