Inquiry into suicide bid at RPH
Incident: Royal Perth Hospital. Picture: The West Australian

An investigation is believed to be under way after a patient was badly injured in a suicide attempt in Royal Perth Hospital.

The West Australian understands the man was in the emergency department when he grabbed a scalpel to harm himself.

RPH officials refused to comment yesterday, citing patient confidentiality, but sources have revealed details of the incident.

It is believed the patient hurt himself so severely that he needed emergency surgery.

Australian Medical Association WA president Michael Gannon said the incident showed how emergency departments were increasingly dangerous places.

"There needs to be a mechanism to keep the emergency department a safe place, so sharps, needles and scalpels are not usually available in clinical areas," he said.

"Obviously the hospital needs to look at its practices and procedures but rather than blaming the hospital, it just goes to show dangerous these environments are. I'm sure there will be a very serious and sober investigation into this."

Under the Department of Health's clinical management policy, incidents of self-harm by mental health patients must be investigated to "ascertain if all appropriate health care strategies were in place to prevent the patient self-harming".

The incident is believed to have happened on Sunday, the day before The West Australian revealed the huge impact of the growing number of patients with mental health problems in emergency departments.

AMA WA past president and emergency physician David Mountain wrote about the difficulties hospital staff face in dealing with mentally ill patients because there is often nowhere to send them after they attend emergency departments.

The circumstances and reasons for the RPH patient's self-harm are not known.

Patients who come into emergency departments are assessed for their condition and suicide risk when they present for help with mental health problems.

The West Australian

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