Substance use amongst inpatients on mental health wards: practical guide for mental health services

Guidance for NHS health boards providing inpatient mental health services on responding to substance use on mental health wards. This should be used in conjunction with existing local guidance for responding to substance use incidents on inpatient wards.

15. Appendix C – Nursing process

Text version below image

Flowchart text version:

Stage 1

  • Patient suspected of being in possession of substances

Stage 2

  • Document details of suspicion

Stage 3

  • Request search of patient

Stage 4

  • If patient consents, search patient and their bedroom

Stage 5

  • If substances are not found, continue to monitor

Stage 6

  • If substances are found, continue to search patient and their bedroom
  • Store substance in controlled drug cupboard and contact Police Scotland on 101
  • If patient does not consent to search, you should call Police Scotland on 101

Stage 7

  • Whilst waiting for the police:
    • Obtain a drug screen
    • Obtain details about what has been taken, if anything
    • Check clinical observations and escalate following NEWS
    • Consider the need for enhanced nursing intervention to limit risk to the patient
    • Make the environment safe – attempt to limit the negative impact of substance use on others
    • Ensure the patient has no time out
    • Do not give medication and seek advice for medication plan
    • Complete police statement form

Stage 8

  • The police will need:
    • Details of the suspicion/ what has been found etc.
    • Details of those involved
  • Make sure this is all written down as you may be off-duty when the police attend

Stage 9

  • Ensure the incident, including police reference number, is raised with the Consultant(s) and the Senior Charge Nurse



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