Hospital patients who have undiagnosed depression often have a slower and more difficult recovery. Now, nurses at Cedars-Sinai hospital in Los Angeles, are leading efforts to screen all patients for possible depression, Nurse.com reports.
The new process is designed to help nurses detect symptoms of clinical depression characterized by a severely disheartened mood, lowered activity level, and persistent negative thoughts lasting longer than two weeks.
“We know, based on multiple medical studies over several years, that addressing depression improves all aspects of patient health,” Linda Burnes Bolton, Cedar-Sinai’s vice president for nursing, CNO, and director of nursing research, said in a news release. Burnes Bolton served as liaison to INQRI’s national advisory committee prior to joining RWJF’s Board of Trustees. “By routinely screening our patients for depression upon admission, we can ensure that they receive the appropriate treatment and protocol.”
For the new initiative, an RN will interview each patient within 24 hours of admission, asking questions about mood and energy level. If the answers indicate possible depression, the nurse will use a standard, detailed questionnaire to assess other depression symptoms, including any thoughts of suicide. If possible depression is found, Cedars-Sinai social workers and physicians will determine an appropriate intervention for the patient. For patients who are suicidal, the nursing department will notify the patient’s physician and protect the patient from self-harm.