Assessing risk: Tips for psychiatrists

  • Find out all you can to be prepared for the assessment.
  • Consider whether you and your colleagues are safe.
  • Be curious and look beyond face value.
  • Explore the meaning behind symptoms and unusual statements.
  • Explore implications of the patient’s emotions and beliefs.
  • Think about what you don’t know.
  • Consider the unpredictability of an evolving disorder or new presentation.
  • Where there is a substance or alcohol misuse problem, always enquire about violence, especially domestic violence.
  • Look for patterns and escalations.
  • Don’t be frightened to discuss your thoughts with colleagues.
  • Be aware that interventions have the potential to increase risk, despite good intentions.
  • Learn to formulate risk.
  • Practice clarity of both written and verbal communication.
  • Know your local information-sharing agreements.
  • Evidence your learning via workplace-based assessments (case-based discussions, assessed clinical encounters, and mini assessed clinical encounters).
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