Behavioral Health in the Acute Care Setting

Course Request

Learning Objectives

  • Identify common verbal de-escalation techniques and non-coercive de-escalation approaches and when to implement them
  • Describe how to set clear boundaries and limits with patients
  • Identify when situations escalate to the point that they require the involvement of Security or law enforcement
  • Understand that staff safety is the ultimate goal when engaging with agitated patients or visitors
  • Explain how to form collaborative relationships with patients and their families that help facilitate shared decision-making

Course Description

When working in the acute care setting, providers will invariably find themselves in situations in which they must manage agitated or challenging patients. In these circumstances, providers should use a noncoercive approach and treat patients and families with respect. Verbal de-escalation of challenging situations is the goal, and restraints should be used only as a last resort, when the safety of patients, staff, or others is at risk.

Topics include:

  • Agreement
  • Listen closely
  • Distract
  • Personal space
  • Concise
  • Repetition
  • Medical emergency
  • Provocative
  • Noncoercive approach
  • Interference
  • Limit Setting
  • Options
  • Safety

Did you know…

  • The nonprofit patient safety organization analyzed 2,364 event reports involving patients with behavioral health needs in general acute care settings.
  • Of those, 1,072 took place in an inpatient nonpsychiatric unit, 782 in the emergency department, 197 elsewhere in the facility and 23 following discharge.
  • More than half of the events involved patient violence against others. Communication challenges, particularly between patient and staff, was the most common contributing factor, showing up in 318 events.

Source: ECRI

Course at a Glance

Target Audience: Frontline healthcare workers

Time to Complete: 25 Minutes

Contributor: UCHealth


Intermountain Healthcare

Author Information

Course development guided by the expertise of:

Cherie Frame RN, MSN, CIC, is the Infection Prevention Director for Intermountain Healthcare. Her portfolio of expertise includes, besides nursing, Critical Care, PICC line team, OR Nurse, Clinic Nurse, Care Management, Infection Prevention, and Nursing Leadership. She obtained her BSN from Brigham Young University and completed her MSN degree from Western Governors University. She obtained her National Certification in Infection Control and is a member of APIC.