Tuesday Tip: Don’t Ignore Dangerous Behaviors

Do you care for a resident whose behavior threatens his/her safety or the safety of others?  Does he wander outside late at night?  Does he refuse to take prescribed medications?  Does he strike out at others?

You must never ignore potentially dangerous behaviors; your response can save someone’s life.  While the exact interventions will vary based on the behavior, the resident, and other circumstances, here is a quick checklist of what should be included as part of your response to any potentially dangerous behavior:

1. Protect the Resident and Others
Safety is your immediate priority when responding to dangerous behaviors.  Sometimes you may have to remove other residents from the environment to keep them safe, and in extreme situations it may be necessary to call 9-1-1.  Be careful that your interventions do not violate a resident’s personal rights.

2. Notify the Physician
The resident’s physician can provide direction on additional interventions that should be taken, such as adjusting the dose of a medication or conducting a follow up examination.

3. Notify the Responsible Party
Keeping the resident’s responsible party (family, power of attorney, conservator, etc) aware of behaviors can prevent future problems.  Family may also be able to recommend interventions that have worked to minimize the behavior in the past.

4. Notify Licensing
Some behaviors, especially those that threaten the safety of the resident or others, require that you submit an Incident Report to licensing.

5. Document, Document, Document
Document the behavior, persons you notified (physician, family, etc.), your interventions, and the resident’s response.  Document everything.

6. Plan for the Future
After responding to the immediate danger, you need to develop a resident-centered plan of care, with interventions to help prevent/minimize the risk of future dangerous behaviors.

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