Do these 10 things for your next psych patient

You have to build a relationship with the psychiatric patient, even in triage, says Barbara Morgan, RN, director of emergency services at Cleveland Clinic. Here are Morgan's tips to improve care of these patients:

1. Introduce yourself.

Tell the patient: "I'm Barbara, I'm a nurse and have worked here for many years. Thank you for coming in today. How can we help you?"

"This approach eases the patient's anxiety and helps to form a bond between caregiver and patient," Morgan says. "First impressions are very important."

2. Say calmly, "How can I help you? Tell me your concerns." Don't say things such as, "I don't have time for this," "What do you want now?" or "I have other patients to take care of."

3. Reduce stimulation by lowering the lights.

4. Identify psychiatric problems as soon as possible.

"This is also a safety issue, because when patients have a long wait they get very upset," Morgan says. "We must always be mindful of the vulnerability of the ED environment to violence."

5. Don't confront or threaten patients who may be psychotic or paranoid.

6. Place the patient in a safe environment with no hazardous objects.

7. Explain what you are doing. Tell patients, "This is what I'm thinking, and this is my plan."

8. Reassure patients that they are in a safe place.

9. Don't sit at the computer and type without looking at the patient.

10. If the patient has to go back out into the waiting room, keep in touch with them.

"Assure them that they need to come and tell you if they have any questions or change in condition before you get back out to see them," says Morgan.