Behavioral Health Risks in Nonpsychiatric Settings: Suicide Risk, Violent Behavior, and the Duty to Warn

October 29, 2014 | Strategic Insights for Health System


​"Psych patients are the only patients who are trying to have a bad outcome," making caring for them exponentially harder, said Gregg Timmons, RN, MA, JD, CPHRM, regional healthcare manager for Casualty Risk Consulting—Healthcare, speaking Monday at the American Society for Healthcare Risk Management's annual conference in Anaheim, California. Using a series of case examples in which patients harmed themselves or others after visiting non–behavioral healthcare settings, Timmons and his fellow speakers detailed the particular issues facing this challenging group of patients. Timmons emphasized the need for organizations to have well-established procedures for handling patients at risk of harming themselves or others. "If you don't have a standard for how you treat patients—formal or informal—one will be assigned for you" at trial, Timmons said. Caregivers and organizations have to be prepared to show that they did what they were supposed to do. He also highlighted the need for appropriate training for all levels of caregivers, from nurses to sitters, to ensure that they each know their role and limits.

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