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Sneak Peak: Top 10 Behavioral Health Challenges

Patient care in the behavioral health population can be challenging. Many risks when caring for behavioral health patients are unique when compared to other healthcare areas. Raising awareness of these risks and using proper mitigation strategies keep patients safe and ensure the best outcomes.


LHA Trust Funds risk consultants conduct annual risk assessments in many Louisiana behavioral health departments and hospitals. We have compiled the top challenges behavioral health workers face based on these risk assessments.

To share our findings, Sr. Risk Consultants Allison Rachal and Glenn Eiserloh host the “Top 10 Behavioral Health Challenges” webinar live on Zoom on Wednesday, March 10. Register for the full webinar here.

In the meantime, here are three top behavioral challenges. (You’ll have to attend the webinar to learn about the rest.)


Patient Falls

Patients in this population fall for many reasons, from behavioral outbursts related to a disease process to altered mental status attributable to medications. But non-existent formal fall prevention programs are a common finding, including few adequate policies to prevent patient falls. Documentation in the medical record is also frequently inconsistent with fall prevention strategies as indicated within written policies.

Healthcare organizations should set the staff up for success by creating a comprehensive, multi-disciplinary approach to fall prevention. The entire team should be involved in identifying patients at high risk for falls and implementing measures to prevent them. Staff members need to understand the importance of documentation to support their fall prevention strategies.


Patient on Staff Violence and Aggression

Behavioral health can be a very volatile patient population and care must be given to reducing the risk of violence through identification and de-escalation. Although most organizations offer this type of training to staff, staff are not always competent in the delivery of the techniques in real-life situations. Training is rarely followed up with an ongoing plan for staff training and support so they can improve in their techniques.

Unfortunately, not everyone is good at interacting in tense situations. The skills to identify and de-escalate aggression should be practiced and honed so that staff members improve in technique effectiveness.


Ligature Risks

The safety of the environment of care is very important when caring for the behavioral health population. The physical environment needs to be evaluated regularly to ensure items are not present that present a risk of harm or can be used as weapons.

Risk Consultants often identify dangerous items within the environment during rounds such as breakable furniture, hanging wires from televisions and radios, and uncovered electrical outlets. Care must be taken to train staff to recognize these dangers so they can be addressed appropriately.


Register For The Full Webinar

These challenges present a small snapshot of the trends identified through risk assessments. We hope that, by sharing them, each organization will have a better understanding of common risks and enhance care through knowledge and awareness.

Don’t forget to join Sr. Risk Consultants Allison Rachal and Glenn Eiserloh on Wednesday, March 10 as they host the “Top 10 Behavioral Health Challenges” webinar. Register for the full webinar here.


Learn More

Want more behavioral health resources? Explore our Behavioral Health Toolkit here.

Explore the entire LHA Trust Funds toolkit library here.

Stacie Jenkins, MSN, RN, CPSO
Vice President of Patient Safety & Risk
Caroline Stegeman, RN, BSN, MJ, ONC, CPHRM, CPSO
Director of Patient Safety
Mike Walsh, AIC, CPCU
Liability Claims Manager