In 2007, The Psychiatrist stated that the direct cost of work-related incidents was £173m per annum. Violence and aggression accounted for 40% of all incidents reported.
The National Audit Office said the most stressful situations for psychiatry trainees were suicide of a patient and assault by a patient.
So we asked how safe were non-psychiatric trainees, such as GP trainees, when interviewing our patients.
In 1998 the Royal College of Psychiatrists recommended that the likelihood of violence would be reduced if wards were clean, calming and comfortable, with natural daylight and fresh air – hence a suitable focus for clinical audit.
We assessed the safety, equipment and decor of interview rooms in mental health inpatient units, the community setting and the A&E departments in Liverpool, Cheshire and the Wirral.
We audited 150 rooms across 26 locations over a five-month period, and our 14 audit criteria included, for instance, whether or not an alarm was present and if any object in the room could be used as a weapon.
We gave our audit results to the relevant hospital managers and the identified ‘at risk’ rooms will now be adapted accordingly. Trainees working in psychiatry subspecialties within this area will find the recommended safety features helpful in minimising potentially violent encounters when they are interviewing patients.
From Dr Alister Pinto and Dr Haroon Siddiq, third-year core psychiatry trainees, Liverpool and Dr Mark Theophanous, consultant psychogeriatrician, Crewe