Nursing

Patient elopement: Widespread, but rarely discussed

Nurse Leader Insider, December 21, 2016

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Caring for behavioral health patients is a major challenge for nurse leaders. When it escalates to elopement—the unauthorized departure of a patient from a hospital—patient safety becomes an immediate concern.

Patients with behavioral health needs often present to hospital emergency departments or, because of medical co-morbidities, are admitted to a medical-surgical unit where staff may not know how to care for this patient population.

But nurse leaders at Weiss and three other Tenet Health Chicago-market hospitals have worked together to develop standardized polices regarding patient elopement.

Creating policies to guide staff in caring for behavioral health patients can improve both quality and safety of care, says Mary Shehan, DNP, RN, NEA-BC, chief nursing officer at Louis A. Weiss Memorial Hospital in Chicago, part of Tenet Health.

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