The impact of the Emergency Department target upon the discharge decision for people who self-harm

MICHAEL HASLAM, Emma Jones

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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Abstract

Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to consider the influence of the Emergency Department (ED) target wait time upon the discharge decision in ED, specifically for patients who have self-harmed. Pressures to discharge patients to avoid breaching the 4-h target wait time, potentially increase the risk of adverse responses from clinicians. For the patient who has self-harmed, such interactions may be experienced as invalidating and may result in adverse outcomes. Design/methodology/approach: Secondary data analysis was applied to the retrospective referral data of a Mental Health Liaison Team (MHLT), collected over a period of 11 months from a single hospital in the North of England. In total, 734 episodes of care were referred to the team from ED, where the primary presentation was recorded as self-harm. Findings: Over half of patients referred to the MHLT from ED having self-harmed were seen after already breaching the target and the potential for a more restrictive outcome reduced. Of those patients seen within 4 h, the potential for a more restrictive treatment option was increased. Practical implications: Recommendations to improve the patient journey for those who have self-harmed include mental health triage and treatment in clinical areas outside of the target. Social implications: This study challenges the concept of the target as being realistic and attainable for patients who have self-harmed. Originality/value: This exploratory study provides a starting point from which to explore the impact of the target time upon discharge decisions and clinical outcomes specifically for those who have self-harmed.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Public Mental Health
Early online date7 Oct 2019
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2019

Keywords

  • Clinical outcomes
  • Emergency Department
  • Mental health liaison
  • Self-harm
  • Target
  • Wait times

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