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Patient safety priorities in mental healthcare in Switzerland: a modified Delphi study
  1. Anna C Mascherek1,
  2. David L B Schwappach1,2
  1. 1Patient Safety Switzerland, Zürich, Switzerland
  2. 2Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine (ISPM), University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland
  1. Correspondence to Dr David L B Schwappach; schwappach{at}


Objective Identifying patient safety priorities in mental healthcare is an emerging issue. A variety of aspects of patient safety in medical care apply for patient safety in mental care as well. However, specific aspects may be different as a consequence of special characteristics of patients, setting and treatment. The aim of the present study was to combine knowledge from the field and research and bundle existing initiatives and projects to define patient safety priorities in mental healthcare in Switzerland. The present study draws on national expert panels, namely, round-table discussion and modified Delphi consensus method.

Design As preparation for the modified Delphi questionnaire, two round-table discussions and one semistructured questionnaire were conducted. Preparative work was conducted between May 2015 and October 2015. The modified Delphi was conducted to gauge experts' opinion on priorities in patient safety in mental healthcare in Switzerland. In two independent rating rounds, experts made private ratings. The modified Delphi was conducted in winter 2015.

Results Nine topics were defined along the treatment pathway: diagnostic errors, non-drug treatment errors, medication errors, errors related to coercive measures, errors related to aggression management against self and others, errors in treatment of suicidal patients, communication errors, errors at interfaces of care and structural errors.

Conclusions Patient safety is considered as an important topic of quality in mental healthcare among experts, but it has been seriously neglected up until now. Activities in research and in practice are needed. Structural errors and diagnostics were given highest priority. From the topics identified, some are overlapping with important aspects of patient safety in medical care; however, some core aspects are unique.

  • Patient safety
  • Mental health care
  • Expert panel
  • Switzerland
  • modified Delphi-study

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