Monday, February 06, 2006

Self-harmers to be given clean blades

Times Online reported Nurses want patients who are intent on harming themselves to be provided with clean blades so that they can cut themselves more safely.
This is insane.
They say people determined to harm themselves should be helped to minimise the risk of infection from dirty blades, in the same way as drug addicts are issued with clean needles.
A good example of the "slippery slope" argument.
This could include giving the “self-harm” patients sterile blades and clean packets of bandages or ensuring that they keep their own blades clean. Nurses would also give patients advice about which parts of the body it is safer to cut.
What makes you think that a patient with a desire to harm himself wants to know a safe way to do it?
The proposal for “safe” self-harm — which is to be debated at the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) Congress in April — is likely to provoke controversy.
At present nurses are expected to stop anyone doing physical harm to themselves and to confiscate any sharp objects ranging from razor blades to broken glass and tin cans.
A reasonable policy.
However, Ian Hulatt, mental health adviser for the RCN, said: “There is a clear comparison with giving clean needles to reduce HIV. We will be debating introducing a similar harm-reduction approach. This may well include the provision of clean dressing packs and it may mean providing clean ‘sharps’.
If a patient wants to shoot himself, will they provide the gun, and make recommendations of where to shoot?
“Nurses who encounter individuals who self-harm on a regular basis face a dilemma. Do they go for prohibition? Or do we allow this to occur in a way that minimises harm?” Hulatt admitted there would be significant opposition: “Some nurses will not support this because our code of practice says we should not do patients any harm.

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