Doctors and patient advocates have seized on the figures saying the outdated practices of seclusion and restraint must be phased out as they can severely traumatise already vulnerable people.
Use of seclusion in psychiatric hospitals varies widely throughout the state, figures obtained by Fairfax Media show. Some hospitals use it at up to 30 times the rate of others.
A NSW Mental Health Deputy Commissioner, Bradley Foxlewin, said such “coercive practices” could traumatise people for a long time. “It’s been recognised almost universally that seclusion is a failure in care,” said Mr Foxlewin, who helped end the practice in the ACT.
The NSW Ministry of Health says seclusion, which involves locking patients in a room alone, often for long periods, should only be used as a last resort. And the NSW Chief Psychiatrist has brought in special officers to work with the worst-offending hospitals.
The highest rate is at St Vincent’s Hospital in inner Sydney, with 32 episodes per 1000 patient days in the second half of 2012. Of the children’s wards, Concord Hospital has the highest rate, of nearly 20 episodes per 1000 patient days.
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