There have been no reports on psychiatric intensive care units (PICUs) in medium secure psychiatric facilities. Using case files, we retrospectively examined the characteristics and outcomes of 73 patients who were admitted to a PICU in a medium secure unit between 1 July 1994 and 30 April 1998.
The PICU population was predominantly male, suffering from illness and detained under Part III of the Mental Health Act, 1983. Although the mean length of stay was 75 days, the majority were ultimately transferred to less intensive nursing environments and only nine required transfer to maximum security. In 10% of cases PICU admission was owing to lack of appropriate facilities elsewhere.
Although the PICU was intended as a crisis facility for the management of challenging behaviours, its function was affected by the lack of clear admission and discharge criteria and appropriate facilities for patients with diverse mental, physical and security needs.
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