Background: A proposal to introduce metal cutlery onto a PICU in order to create a more homely environment prompted staff concerns about safety.
Aims: Based on the premise that past behaviour is a strong predictor of future behaviour, we undertook a pilot audit of history of weapon use as a measure to guide decision making on weapons security on our PICU.
Methods: Retrospective case note audit of 30 PICU patients to determine historical rates of weapon use. Secondary measures included level and type of weapon use, and mental disorder. 30 ‘non PICU pathway’ general ward patients were sampled as a ‘control’.
Results: 19/30 patients on the PICU had a history of weapon use, compared to 7/30 on the general ward. There were 23 recorded incidents in the PICU sample and 7 on the general ward.
Conclusions: The majority of the PICU sample had a history of weapon use, often recent, including improvised and bladed weapons, at times of acute disturbance and non-compliance with medications. Comparison with the non-PICU group indicates that the measure had good construct validity as rates in this group were significantly lower. Therefore history of weapon use could be a useful measure in guiding decision making about security protocols on PICU, however, further research is required.