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#1 Posted : 02 February 2001 14:25:00(UTC)
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Posted By Peter Barry
Re the above subject have any collegues come across any cases of a breach in the duty of care owed to those who are under treatment for suicidal tendancies? I have a couple of cases related to police custody but none from the health care setting. With the increase of stress related claims I am carrying out some research into the above and any help would be appreciated.


#2 Posted : 02 February 2001 16:27:00(UTC)
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Posted By Peter Barry
Pardon the spelling Psychologists
#3 Posted : 02 February 2001 22:45:00(UTC)
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Posted By Bob Randall
Hi Peter,

The duty of care owed by a psychologist to a patient is not really a health and safety matter but a duty at common law.

There may be some implications for H&S insofar as a risk assessment may identify this group of patients as being at particular risk in a certain environmment, for example when exposed to the possibility of being able to throw themselves out of windows or cut themselves etc.

The common law duty is to take "reasonable care" not to injure our neighbour by way of act or omission. In this context our neighbour is anybody whom we can reasonably foresee may be injured by our act or omission.

I would suggest that you conduct a risk assessment to identify physical, i.e. "engineering" controls such as window catches, locks etc that may be needed and that you also look at the implications for staffing. For example is there a need for regular surveillance of patients with this tendency? What staffing levels will satisfy the requirement? What training will staff need to be able to deal with potentially suicidal patients? Is there somebody readily available to render medical assistance if the worse happens and a person suceeds in making a suicide attempt?

Hope this helps.

Bob Randall

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