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Against the stream: intermittent nurse observations of in-patients at night serve no purpose and cause sleep deprivation

  • David Veale (a1) (a2)
Abstract

This paper argues that intermittent nursing observations of in-patients at night do not reduce the risk of suicide or severe self-harm. Suicides between 23.00 h and 07.00 h are rare, and these overwhelmingly occur under intermittent observations. Such observation is purely a defensive intervention to document that a patient is safe at a particular time, as there is no engagement. For the large majority of in-patients, it has the unintended consequence of causing sleep deprivation. The intervention may cause harm to in-patients by making their disorder worse and increase their risk during the day. If patients are judged to be at immediate risk, then they should be placed on constant observation. If they are not, then optimising sleep is important for treating a psychiatric disorder and they should be placed on general observations.

Declaration of interest

None.

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Copyright
This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Corresponding author
Correspondence to David Veale (david.veale@kcl.ac.uk).
References
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BJPsych Bulletin
  • ISSN: 2056-4694
  • EISSN: 2056-4708
  • URL: /core/journals/bjpsych-bulletin
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Against the stream: intermittent nurse observations of in-patients at night serve no purpose and cause sleep deprivation

  • David Veale (a1) (a2)
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