Pharmaceuticals Anonymous

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

NYT: Mystery Shoppers Check Out Conditions in Psychiatric Ward

EDE, the Netherlands
Surrounded by manicured greenery, the closed-off ward of the complex, known as De Riethorst, recalls a suburban dental clinic, and its sunny gymnasium and carpeted hallways do little to suggest that it houses up to a dozen acute psychiatric patients, many of whom are there involuntarily.

And that is why the undercover participants were all experienced psychiatric nurses. “You couldn’t have done it otherwise,” said Edo De Vries, the director of De Gelderse Roos, which released the results of the project last summer.

It and Clearfields are working on a project for 2010, most likely to involve five to eight psychiatric hospitals in the Netherlands.

Mr. De Vries said the impetus for the project came in part from a pair of patient deaths last year in psychiatric facilities in Amsterdam — one involving a suicide, the other a man who choked on food while locked in an isolation cell. Several managers and staff members were fired as a result, and others were suspended.

“Of course, incidents can happen anywhere,” Mr. De Vries said. “But what if there is something structurally wrong that we don’t know about? We have to be more transparent, and I think this method is a good tool for that.”

The Rosenhan "Thud" Experiment