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Locking doors in mental health hospitals does not reduce suicide or absconding, shows study

BMJ 2016; 354 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.i4198 (Published 29 July 2016) Cite this as: BMJ 2016;354:i4198
  1. Susan Mayor
  1. London

Mental health hospitals with locked door policies have no lower rates of suicide, attempted suicide, or patients leaving without staff authorisation than hospitals with open doors, a large observational study has shown.1 Results found that treatment on open wards was associated with lower risk of suicide attempts and patients absconding.

Inpatient psychiatric wards in the UK are increasingly keeping their doors locked with the aim of preventing suicide and patients absconding with possible risk of self harm or harm to others, but there is little evidence for this.

Researchers analysed data from 21 German psychiatric inpatient hospitals for the 15 years between 1998 and 2012 to investigate …

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