Pens or pencils?


What type of writing utensil do you provide for your patients? Pens or pencils? Do you have any specific reasons for this decision?

Davey Do

1 Article; 10,290 Posts

Specializes in Psych (25 years), Medical (15 years). Has 44 years experience.

Short, little Golf pencils- more difficult to use as a weapon.

Specializes in PMHNP/Adjunct Faculty. Has 9 years experience.

Same as above, short golf pencils. I will add to the conversation eraser-less specifically because patients can use erasers to self harm by creating eraser burns on their skin.


14,633 Posts

I've seen the short, eraserless "golf" pencils, also. Years ago, I worked on a psych unit that only offered felt tip pens because they were considered the safest option. And I've worked on units on which it wasn't considered an issue, and staff would just hand people ballpoint pens.


462 Posts

We use floppy pens and felt tip markers for acute patients. No golf pencils because we've had several injuries with them at a facility I worked at.

MagnumRN, BSN

13 Posts

Specializes in PMH. Has 30 years experience.

Once on my inpatient unit an individual straightened out the spring in a bic pen and worked the whole thing under the skin of his arm.

Specializes in Psychiatric / Forensic Nursing. Has 48 years experience.

Highly recommend felt tip markers and good ol' crayons.

That said, in reference to Magnum's post:

We had a 24-year-old borderline personality female at the state hospital that started by opening her antecubital fossa with a staple she got from a magazine. Long story short - after 6-7 months she had reached the point where she could put three highlighters, several crayons, 4 or 5 Band-Aids (wrapper and all), roll of 1" tape, a spoon, a plastic knife, parts of a Styrofoam coffee cup and some toilet paper into her upper arm via the antecubitus, between the dermis and fascia. She had so many trips to the E.R. to fish things out, the hospital was reported to A.P.S. ! She went through MRSA and two rounds of Vancomycin; 1:1 staffing, room with mattress only, separately staffed unit on another floor (I kid you not...). The facility closed before she was discharged and she was transferred to another state unit. Always wondered how that turned out.

Psych Nurse Humor - after a while whenever anything was missing on the unit, regardless of size, including people, somebody would say, "Have you checked so-and-so's arm lately?"

MagnumRN, BSN

13 Posts

Specializes in PMH. Has 30 years experience.

Drop that mike, EKUGRAD! Wow, I've been doing this for 30 years (although always acute inpt, never state hosp) and that's one of the most impressive efforts I've heard.