Contraband Checks?

  1. Hello,
    I just started working in an inpatient acute psychiatric facility a few months ago. I work at a VA hospital and we have a 21 bed unit. A few weeks before I started working here the ward was shut down because a patient pulled a knife on a nurse. Since then there have been some changes to safety policies: we now have a enclosed nurses station (the ironic thing is they put up the windows then took down the doors and said they would replace them in "2 weeks"... right, we've been without doors for at least a month now), we do q15 minute "safety" checks or the floor, qhour checks where we check of that each patient is safe/visualized, belongings have been limited to none for level 1 patients and level 2 patients get 2 sets of clothes, no belts etc, and shoes without laces.
    However, we still have a huge issue with contraband. Last week nurses responded to a room after smelling cigarette smoke. A patient was in the bathroom, flushed the toilet, and no contraband was found.. (I think he flushed it). I suggested, along with some other nurses and aides, that we have qday THOROUGH safety checks of the floor, and pointed out to my nurse manager that the q15 checks are inadequate and are too rushed to do a thorough check. When doing 15 minute checks one often finishes just in time to start the next round... My nurse manager an I did a trial thorough check, checking under mattresses, in pillow cases, in tissue boxes etc. In 45 minutes we checked the entire floor. We found a light, tobacco "crumbs", 3 wallets (not allowed on floor), 2 plastic patient belongings bags, one duffle bag (not allowed), and lots of garbage. We also discovered many other, non-contraband related, safety issues just by looking around the floor.
    I'm working on making this a daily thing and I wanted to get some input. What does your hospital do as far as contraband checks? What have you found during your checks that wouldn't have found otherwise? Any stories, suggestions, etc would be very helpful
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    About chocokitten

    Joined: Jun '06; Posts: 157; Likes: 96
    RN, Substance Abuse; from US
    Specialty: 5 year(s) of experience in Psychiatry


  3. by   Whispera
    bag of pills on top of a ceiling tile, cigarettes and lighter in the light fixture over the bathroom sink...

    we did checks once a day and everything brought in by visitors was checked. also, during visiting hours at least one tech was out where visiting was happening...

    Of course, you have to have enough staff to make checking feasable....that wasn't the case for me when I was the only staff person, at least not often!
  4. by   Orca
    We found 60 Lortab inside a prosthetic leg.
  5. by   elkpark
    We do strip searches on admission, plus a thorough search of any personal belongings brought to the unit by clients or visitors. We also do daily room searches. Facilities in my state are slowly doing away with acoustic tile ceilings precisely because it's so easy to hide contraband there. My facility hasn't changed the ceilings yet, but has installed a motion sensor system in all the client rooms that sounds an alarm if there is any physical motion near the ceiling (like, oh, say, someone trying to hide something in the ceiling ). Unfortunately, the alarms tend to be set off by the steam when clients take showers!
    Last edit by elkpark on Sep 21, '09
  6. by   Meriwhen
    We do a thorough search of the patient and his/her belongings on admission, and any contraband is locked up. Any items that are brought by visitors are also searched.

    We do patient rounds q15 min (at the least visualizing every patient) 24 hours a day.

    We also do safety checks on the unit every shift. In the safety checks, we check each room and common area for contraband or anything that doesn't belong (such as if they checked a hair dryer out to use and forgot to return it) and make sure windows and patient closet doors are locked. This results in the unit and every room being checked 3x/day, with additional checks if needed.