12. tbl 93. árg. 2007


Special observation on psychiatric patients on acute inpatient wards at the Division of Psychiatry, Landspítali-University Hospital in Iceland, attitudes of patients and staff

Gátir á bráðadeildum geðsviðs Landspítala: Viðhorf sjúklinga og starfsmanna

Objective: Special observation (constant observation) of patients is common on psychiatric wards, both in Iceland and abroad, but very few studies have been conducted on their therapeutic value. The objective was to investigate the extent and nature of special observation on emergency wards at the Division of Psychiatry at the Landspitali-University Hospital in Iceland as well as the attitudes of patients and staff toward special observation.

Participants and methods: Information about patients on special observation was recorded over a three months period. Patients were interviewed with a standardised eleven questions interview shortly after the observation finished in order to investigate their attitudes toward the observation. Also, members of staff from each ward were asked to answer eight questions about their attitudes toward special observation in general. The Ethics Committee of Landspitali - University Hospital gave its permission for the study.

Results: During the research period observation was used for 157 patients, which is 31% of the total number of patients admitted during that period. Most of the patients (83%) were on 5-15 minutes observation, 25 per cent on close observation and 11 percent on suicide or constant observation. The majority of the patients claimed that security was the most important aspect of being on special observation, independent of which type of observation they were, and only one fifth felt that the company of staff was most important. The staff members on the other hand claimed that concern for the patient, respect and companionship were most important for the patients, independent of the type of observation used.

Conclusions: The extent, nature and process of observation on acute inpatient wards in Iceland seems to be comparable to other studies from abroad. In view of the importance of special observations in psychiatric emergency care and their influence on patients? private life it is important to develop and implement clinical guidelines about their use.

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