Hospital Safety Guide for Self-Harm

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The hospital has safety rules for patients at risk of harming themselves. These rules may change over time depending on how your child responds to treatment. 

Hospital Administration

Staff members from social work, psychology, and psychiatry will meet with your child during the first 24 hours after they’re admitted to the hospital (Picture 1). This helps staff understand your child and their problems better so they can get the best treatment. 

Staff member talking to patient and family.

Constant Monitoring

  • A staff member will be in the room with your child at all times. This includes when they use the restroom, take a shower, or do other activities. This is to make sure your child is safe. Staff will do their best to respect your child and family’s privacy.
  • Patients usually only leave their rooms for medical treatments and tests. Any time your child leaves their room, monitoring staff go with them. 


Your child can have approved visitors while they’re in the hospital. This could change depending on their progress. Below are guidelines for visitors.

  •  Only parents, legal guardians, and grandparents may visit.
  • There can only be 2 visitors in your child’s room at one time.
  • Only those on the approved list can visit. They must know your child’s guest code.
  • Visitors that are not on the approved list cannot visit. It doesn’t matter if they know your child’s guest code.
  • Limit cell phone use. Only use them outside of the room.
  • Your child can request that the clergy visit. 

Personal Items

A list of your child’s things is made when they arrive. Then, they are stored away. Parents or guardians can get them back if they ask.

  • Patients must wear the provided hospital clothing. Your child can have eyeglasses and hairbands without metal, that are less than 2 inches around.
  • Head coverings for religious reasons may be worn. They will be removed for a safety check.
  • All visitors’ belongings will be searched or secured in a locked cabinet or drawer on the unit.
    • We will discuss any concerns about particular items that are brought in.
    • Visitors can choose to use lockers located in the Family Resource Center to store their personal items.
  • Your child cannot have a cell phone or make calls from their room.
    • There is no hospital phone in their room.
    • All phone calls occur at the nurses’ station.
    • Calls may be restricted. Most of the time, this is so your child can focus on healing and recovery. Any restrictions will be explained to you.
  • Flowers, balloons, or gifts or any kind are not allowed. If approved, cards and e-cards may be given to patients.
  • Your child can watch television. Staff will check what is watched. Patients cannot watch content with adult language or conversations, violence, or sex.
  • Personal video games or internet may be allowed. The doctor or health care provider can talk to you about this.
  • Your child may read books, magazines, or other things if they do not have staples or paper clips. Staff will check what is being read.

Changing Safety Needs

After every 24 hours (at least), the clinical team will re-evaluate your child’s safety needs based on their behavior and situation. Positive changes may be made to their visitors and activities. Your child may:

  • Be allowed visitors.
  • Walk on the unit with staff for a set amount of time.
  • Have access to some personal or comfort items.
  • Get supervised access to electronic devices without internet. This does not include cell phones.
  • Get supervised access to a computer and internet for a set amount of time for schoolwork and activities.

We know this is a very stressful time for you and your family. If you have any questions, ask your child’s doctor or health care provider. These safety measures help keep everyone safe during a hospital stay.

Children at Risk for Self-Harm or Harm to Others: Safety Rules While in the Hospital (PDF)

HH-IV-125 6/22 Copyright 2011, Nationwide Children's Hospital