Psychiatric Contraband

Specialties Psychiatric



i am a clinician for inpatient psychiatry. having a continuing problem with contraband on the unit. am planning skills updates and inservices on proper search of patients as well as rooms and other areas of unit. am tired of reinventing the would be interested in sharing information on safety, contraband, visitor restrictions and other areas of psychiatric policy and procedures.


190 Posts

We strip search each new admission. Do weekly health & safety inspections of the unit on each shift searching for contraband. These are not done on the same day or time from week to week & we have police /security present when we do them. Visits are always supervised by staff & patients are searched prior to being allowed back onto the unit. One thing that perhaps would be the most beneficial would be a set of rules for the unit that is agreed upon & enforced by all staff. Staff on our unit also do rounds of the unit every 30 minutes during these each patient is accounted for- anotherwords it is a face to face check every 30 minutes 24/7. We have metalic strips on the bottom edges to the doors to the unit to prevent other patients from other units from slipping contraband under neath the doors.


6 Posts


Thanx for the response. We too do checks routinely ...every 15 to 30 minutes. What I'm looking for is material to use to train people on how to do appropriate searches of patients and rooms...policy etc...

Originally posted by MBB


Thanx for the response. We too do checks routinely ...every 15 to 30 minutes. What I'm looking for is material to use to train people on how to do appropriate searches of patients and rooms...policy etc...

I may be able to help you out. Check out the private message I sent you.


62 Posts

Originally posted by TitaniaSidhe

We strip search each new admission....

I only quoted this part of your post as it concerned me a great deal. What type of unit do you work on? And how does your facility justify a strip search without just cause? Is this a true strip search, in which case an MD order would be required, or are your pt's voluntarily changing into scrubs, or some other attire, and handing their clothing out to the staff?


190 Posts

I work in a locked admissions unit at a VA Facillity. They are voluntarily handing in their clothing & changing into hospital pajamas, usually. It is hospital policy that all new admissions be searched for contraband & weapons in the presence of the station police- they are federal police officers & nursing staff. Patients must have a doctors order to be in street clothing on our unit. Those patients that are not cooperative with being searched upon admission usually are either hiding something to smuggle into the unit or so acutely psychotic so as to be uncooperative with anything requested & are in restraints. We make every attempt to preserve dignity & privacy with searching new admissions. Male staff for men & female staff for females. It is not something we enjoy but it is necessary for the safety of our staff, other patients & the new admission themselves. No MD order is needed to search a new admission as this is hospital policy at our facillity. Also I might add that most of our patients are committed & Krull/ forensic with a few scatter voluntary usually Sub Induced Mood Disorder or Psychosis NOS.


53 Posts

I worked on an acute care, mainly voluntary, inpatient psych unit in a community hospital. We had no policy about searching and rarely did. Along with occasionally being aware that there were illegal drugs and alcohol on the unit, I remember walking past a patient's room one day and being aware that there was quite a breeze coming in. The man had used the toolbelt he brought with him to remove the whole window from the frame because he was feeling overheated. We were on the 5th floor and there was a 6x6 foot hole in the wall. Scary!

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