A new tool could help mental health professionals identify those patients that pose a risk of violence, according to researchers from the University of California.
Psychiatrist Dr Alan Teo found that the Historical, Clinical, Risk Management - Clinical (HRC-20-C) scale could dramatically improve the accuracy with which violence risk was predicted.
The discovery was made when analysing the process used by psychiatrists to evaluate the threat of acutely ill patients.
It was observed that inexperienced professionals performed no better in assessing risk that they would have if they simply used chance.
However, using the HRC-20-C scale, which is a brief, structured risk assessment tool, accuracy was improved to a level similar to that of psychiatrists that have 15 years or more experience.
Dr Teo commented: "Similar to a checklist a pilot might use before takeoff, the HRC-20-C has just five items that any trained mental health professional can use to assess their patients.
"To improve the safety for staff and patients in high-risk settings, it is critical to teach budding psychiatrists and other mental health professionals how to use a practical tool such as this one."
Read about support and personalised care at Barchester care homes for anyone with mental health concerns.