Improved communication helps smooth transition from emergency department for mental health inpatients in Prince Albert Parkland

Mental health 2015-12-14

Patients who visit the Emergency Department with a mental health concern requiring admission have different needs than patients with medical or surgical needs. However, until recently, Prince Albert’s Victoria Hospital did not have consistent processes in place to ensure these patients – and their information – move smoothly and safely from the ED to the hospital’s mental health inpatient unit.

Orders frequently lacked the information necessary to ensure safe care for these patients after admission. And handoffs between the two departments were inconsistent, often resulting in re-work for staff in the mental health unit.

As part of a recent Rapid Process Improvement Workshop (RPIW), staff members from different units introduced a number of changes to the admission process and in Emergency that have improved care for patients.

The team developed a flowsheet to guarantee client receive consistent nursing care during their time in Emergency. A new admission checklist ensures correct information is included when clients are transferred between the ED and the mental health inpatient unit. And a new door in the ED quiet room allows health providers to monitor clients but does not compromise their privacy.

“We have set the standard on the safe flow and timely evaluation of mental health patients in the Emergency Department.”
(Dr. Colin Gallins, ED physician and RPIW participant)

Other improvements include:

  • Family and client information pamphlet developed for use in ED and inpatient mental health unit;
  • Standard order set for use when clients admitted from ED to inpatient mental health; and,
  • New client pickup process guarantees a commissionaire is involved in every transfer and that more care staff can remain on the inpatient unit.

Thanks to the changes, mental health clients now receive the attention they need during their stay, and improved communication and order sets ensure a smooth transition of care for clients. The new processes will decrease re-work for mental health staff, and there is also improved security on the mental health inpatient unit because fewer staff have to leave unit when patients are being transferred from Emergency.

“I enjoyed participating in this RPIW,” said Jennifer Conley, Chief Executive Officer for the Athabasca Health Authority. “I feel like we made positive changes that will benefit mental health patients who access services at the Victoria Hospital.  Better processes, more education and support for patients and families.”

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