Changing the focus of adverse incident reporting in mental health nursing
Intended for healthcare professionals
Evidence and practice    

Changing the focus of adverse incident reporting in mental health nursing

Samuel Woodnutt Principal teaching fellow, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Southampton, Southampton, England

Why you should read this article:
  • To recognise differences in adverse incident reporting between mental health and general healthcare settings

  • To appreciate the need to alter adverse incident reporting processes in mental health to consider workforce-related issues

  • To acknowledge the need for nurses to feel able to include workforce-related issues in adverse incident reports

While overall incident reporting in mental health settings has increased in recent years, so too has the frequency of self-harm and aggression towards patients and staff, which continue to be leading causes of adverse incidents. However, unlike adverse incident reporting in general hospitals, which focuses on factors such as suboptimal treatment or care, adverse incidents in mental health still focus on patients and their acts of self-harm or perceived aggression. Mental health adverse incident policy needs to change to emphasise that incidents occur when staff are unable to provide appropriate care, rather than simply when a patient becomes aggressive or engages in self-harm. However, this requires a shift in the values used to monitor adverse incidents so that patients’ self-harm or aggression is regarded partly as an outcome of inappropriate or omitted care, rather than solely a result of the patient’s actions.

Mental Health Practice. doi: 10.7748/mhp.2023.e1685

Peer review

This article has been subject to external double-blind peer review and checked for plagiarism using automated software



Conflict of interest

None declared

Woodnutt S (2023) Changing the focus of adverse incident reporting in mental health nursing. Mental Health Practice. doi: 10.7748/mhp.2023.e1685

Published online: 05 December 2023

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