Halved the use of belts after disclosure by VG

Restraint Belts bergen psychiatry Sandviken hospital killedPrevention: All employees at Sandviken Hospital in Bergen have been trained to detect and cope with aggression in patients. It has given effect. Photo: CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikipedia

Halved the use of belts in Bergen after disclosure by VG

Sandviken Hospital has halved the use of restraining belts in psychiatry, after topping VG’s national mapping of coercive measures. At the same time, they see an increase in violence and threats to staff in 2017.

VG revealed in 2016 a lack of an overview of how often and why psychiatric patients were subject to  restraining belts in Norwegian hospitals. The national survey they conducted showed that the belt use was the highest in western Norway, and the article placed ‘here the belts use is highest in Norway’ over a picture of Sandviken Hospital in Bergen.

The hospital has now taken action.

– Our numbers were so bad that we are very focused on this, says clinic manager in Helse Bergen HF,Kristin Jordheim Bovim.

Was necessary

Two years ago, Helse Bergen had 399 uses of restrictive belts, in 2016 it was reduced to 252 and last year patients were placed in belts 206 times in the psychiatric clinic.

Does that suggest that almost half of the belt usage in 2015 was unnecessary?

– No, that would be totally hypothetical. I think the use of belts was necessary when the staff were in the situation, but what we have been better at is discovering what could become potentially dangerous situations early on and intervene with lighter measures before it becomes necessary to apply coercive measures.

The Head of the Clinic believes there are two measures that have contributed to the sharp decline:

  1. All employees have been trained to detect and register aggression at an early stage and to take action.

– It may be that an employee sees a patient starting to get a little irritable and talking a bit louder. Then you might suggest entering the room for a chat or out on the terrace to have a cigarette and the situation then calms down, says Bovim.

  1. All patients are asked about what can trigger anger, fear or anxiety in them when submitted.

Belt usage has been reduced in all departments. The use of other coercive measures, such as short-term retention and isolation, has gone up while forced use of medication is stable.

More threats and violence

– This is a major change in the use of coercive measures, are there any negative results?

– I can not deny that there is an increase in violence and threats towards our employees in the last year, says Kristin Jordheim Bovim.

On Thursday, Bergensavisen had a lead story entitled ‘Health Personell threatened every day‘.

In the article the newspaper writes that the number of episodes involving violence and threats increased by 67 per cent in 2017.

– Does this happen because you apply fewer coercive measures than before?

– I think it’s difficult to draw that conclusion directly. We had a sharp decline in the use of belts from 2015 to 2016, and at the same time we had a slight reduction in episodes involving violence and threats, Bovim states.

The Head of the Clinic informs that many of the episodes last year were linked to one particular patient.

– It’s serious enough when employees experience being spit on or scratched. But fortunately, there are no issues last year that involve serious violent episodes where employees have been in need of a sick leave, says Bovim.

Norway Health Regions

Norway is divided into four health regions (South East, West, Central and North).
ill: Helse Norge / Norway Today


©  VG / Norway Today