Care providers not properly aware of risks surrounding mental health patients: Dutch Safety Board

Healthcare providers are often unaware of the danger that patients with serious mental health problems pose to themselves and the people around them, the Dutch Safety Board said in a new report on Thursday , NOS reports.

Many parties are involved in the care of these patients, such as mental healthcare providers, addiction care, day care and general practitioners. As they do not work well together, there is no complete picture of the patient and the correct care he or she needs, the Safety Board said. This can be dangerous for the patient, but also for the people in the patient's environment. If healthcare providers were better at sharing information, these risks could be better assessed and better care could be provided. 

The Safety Board launched this investigation due to signals about an increased number of unsafe situations involving people with serious mental health problems. The Safety Board found that such people are very dependent on the care of others.

In the repot, the researchers mention a number of incidents. One incident led to the death of a disturbed Syrian man in Schiedam. The police shot the man after he stood on a balcony with an ax in hand, shouting "Allahu akbar". Another example involved an accident in which a disturbed man stole a car and crashed into another car containing a family. A 4-year-old boy died. 

While this investigation is separate from the report on the treatment of Michael P., the man who raped and murdered Anne Faber while he was a patient in a psychiatric clinic, the conclusions are similar. The Michael P. investigation showed that the forensic institutions had not properly shared information about the man's previous sex crimes. The parties involved in providing care to people with serious mental disorders are also reluctant to share information, the Safety Board said. 

The Dutch Safety Board made a number of recommendations on improving the care for people with serious mental health issues. The first is giving the caregivers involved a joint budget. The Board advises the parties to improve their information exchange, using the room provided within their professional confidentiality. It would also help if the parties meet more often for evaluation. And the caregivers must pay more attention to input given by the people around the patient. 

The Minister and State Secretary of Public Health, Welfare and Sports must also conclude a new agreement with the care providers on how to improve health care on a structural basis, the Safety Board said.