A follow-up report on preventing suicide: focus on medical/surgical units and the emergency department.
Suicide among hospitalized patients remains an under-recognized never event, as it has ranked among the most common sentinel events reported to The Joint Commission over the past decade. While specialized psychiatric units are designed and staffed to minimize suicide risk, emergency departments and general medical wards are not, and prior research has shown that a significant proportion of inpatient suicide attempts occur in these settings. This Sentinel Event Alert reviews risk factors for inpatient suicide, and delineates prevention strategies hospitals can use to minimize risk. A case of an inpatient suicide attempt on a general medical ward is discussed in this AHRQ WebM&M commentary.