Advance Patient Safety Checks

Patient safety checks in psychiatric settings help to increase visibility, reduce risk and promote the safety and wellbeing of mental health patients in a variety of complex inpatient settings.

Patient safety checks are primarily conducted on paper and clipboard by a rounding mental health technician every 15 minutes (Q15 check). They are intended to ensure the safety of vulnerable patient populations and help staff to assess the needs of patients on an individual basis.

As psychiatric admissions and substance use disorders continue to increase, paper and clipboard methods widely used to document patient safety checks, or Q15 checks, are becoming more of a concern for healthcare teams.

The importance of safety checks

In addition to standard Q15 checks, patient safety check intervals can vary depending on acuity level; shorter intervals (5-7 minutes) mean the patient will be seen more frequently by staff. A patient may also be placed on a 1-to-1 observation with a ‘sitter’, which means one staff member is consistently monitoring one patient. These are put in place to monitor patients who are at greater risk of self-harm and assist suicide prevention.

Managing and performing all patient safety checks within the designated interval greatly helps to reduce the risk of falls, elopement, self-harm, or patient suicide, which can be very costly from both the human and financial perspective.

There are many other critical benefits of timely patient checks, or Q15 checks, including:

  • Safety of other patients, staff, visitors
  • Improved communication & coordination of care
  • Increased visibility and quality of care for patients

Doctor with Patient

How can we improve safety for staff and patients?

Varying intervals and patient acuity levels make patient safety checks difficult to manage, especially when using traditional paper documentation methods. Nonetheless, routine and timely patient safety checks are critical to keeping patients safe in inpatient behavioral health facilities.

Patient safety check rounds can be missed due to documentation errors, lack of staff, or lack of time. With paper documentation, patient safety checks are often found to be ‘out of compliance’, due to medical errors improper monitoring by staff who aren’t physically close enough to the patient(s) when observing.

Failure to perform required patient checks within the appropriate time and distance to the patient is listed as the root cause of sentinel and non-sentinel events. This emphasizes the need to support mental health staff with the right tools to perform patient safety checks and daily tasks.

Digitizing Workflow with Technology

There are many benefits to digitizing patient safety checks in health care. Utilizing technology will support staff with proactive rounding practices and ensure that patient safety checks are documented within the appropriate distance to the patient, and within the designated timeframe.

Replacing traditional documentation methods with digital solutions can also provide health care teams with tangible data to reference for patient care, staff performance and insurance purposes. Additionally, the ability to reference electronic metrics and time-stamped patient observations will allow an organization to pull specific information in the event of a conflict or emergency.

Documenting patient safety checks digitally can not only help to reduce adverse patient events, but also improve workflow inefficiencies among healthcare teams who may be struggling with labor demands and staffing shortages.

Ensure Safety, Compliance, and Suicide Prevention with ObservSMART

That’s why ObservSMART created a better solution. Using proprietary technology, patient safety checks with ObservSMART are validated through staff-to-patient proximity, helping staff to ensure observation compliance and greatly reduce the risks and costs associated with missed or falsified observations.

Founded by two behavioral health nurses who saw firsthand the risks and drawbacks associated with paper documentation, ObservSMART inherently creates more efficient rounding practices for staff and a safer environment for all patients.

Contact us today to learn more about how we can help your organization improve compliance and patient safety outcomes.