Patient Safety Strategies in Psychiatry and How They Construct the Notion of Preventable Harm: A scoping review

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The literature on patient safety in psychiatry has not been explored systematically in terms of what interventions are used, how they are used, and what type of (preventable) harm is targeted. The aims of this scoping review are to explore patient safety strategies used in psychiatry and determine how they construct the notion of preventable harm.

A scoping review of literature on patient safety in psychiatry published in English between 2000 and 2019 was conducted using Scopus, MEDLINE, PsycInfo, and CINAHL. Keywords of patient safety strategies and possible outcomes were coded from the results, discussion, or conclusion. Patient safety strategies were inductively categorized into themes according to the focus of the strategy.

The review introduces 7 focus areas of patient safety strategies identified within the psychiatric literature: “risk management,” “healthcare practitioners,” “patient observation,” “patient involvement,” “computerized methods,” “admission and discharge,” and “security.” The result shows that patient safety strategies mainly aim to reduce suicide, self-harm, violence, and falls and present a large diversity of measures, often aimed at reducing variability while increasing standardization.

The strategies that are supported in the literature to achieve safer psychiatry mainly arise from linear cause-effect models and rely on staff performance, competence, and compliance. Contemporary safety science acknowledges the performance variability of everyday normal work and sees risk as the dynamic migration of these daily activities. The field of psychiatry has not yet included this view of safety in the strategic actions to reduce preventable harm.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)245-252
JournalJournal of patient safety
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Aug 2

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Nursing
  • Health Care Service and Management, Health Policy and Services and Health Economy


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