In the mental health care setting, patients are more vulnerable to choking and the risk of cardiac and respiratory problems due to behavioral problems and use of rapid tranquilization. Poorly maintained, incomplete or damaged equipment in emergency trolleys have previously been documented in various articles as a major contributing factor to deaths and delayed response to resuscitation attempts.
This project aimed to examine the current practices for managing emergency equipment.
An evidence implementation project was undertaken by utilizing the Joanna Briggs Institute's Practical Application of Clinical Evidence System and Getting Research Into Practice programs. Pre- and post-implementation audits were conducted in a mental health institution over 25 months. Strategies were implemented between audits to enhance adoption of the best available evidence regarding the checking and maintenance of emergency equipment.
The baseline audit data showed that adherence was lowest in ensuring the functional status of emergency equipment (53%), followed by conducting regular checks for functional status, using inventory, and documenting these checks (60%). In line with the Getting Research Into Practice module, barriers such as the lack of knowledge and skills regarding emergency equipment were addressed with town hall meetings, code blue drills and education sessions. Follow-up audit results showed improvement in all areas. The greatest improvement was in documentation of emergency equipment checks, which improved by 18%, from 80% to 98%.
Audits enabled the timely identification of potential lapses in the management of emergency equipment so that the barriers could be addressed, and strategies in line with the best available evidence regarding the checking and maintenance of emergency equipment were adopted.