The physical environment in psychiatric hospitals and other Behavioral Healthcare facilities plays a key role in patient safety. Some of those environmental risks are addressed by advancements in facility design, such as creating better sightlines for visual monitoring of patients, and the use of “security” glass in doors and windows. Other elements may be overlooked during the planning or construction phase, or may be inadvertently introduced at some later point where the necessary level of scrutiny may not exist. This is often the case with the selection and installation of furniture, fixtures and equipment (FFE) in patient-occupied areas of behavioral healthcare facilities.
Elements that are considered appropriate in a general healthcare setting, or for particular patient populations, may not only be unnecessary in a behavioral healthcare (BHC) unit, they may be potentially hazardous in a psychiatric population. This is particularly true for psychiatric units located within a general healthcare facility. In addition, allocating financial resources for any unneeded apparatus reduces available dollars for the specialized furniture and fixtures that can significantly reduce hazardous situations or contribute to safer environments.