The Joint Commission publishes sentinel event alerts to emphasize pressing safety issues, determine root causes, and provide guidelines for organizations on how to address them. In light of receiving 1089 reports of suicide between 2010 and 2014, this new alert focuses on preventing suicide in health care settings. Many of the suicide cases investigated across health care settings had involved inadequate assessments or lack of identification of suicidal ideation. The alert suggests that all health care providers should screen for suicidal ideation and review patients for suicide risk factors. A previous WebM&M commentary discusses a suicide attempt on an inpatient medical unit. Note: This alert has been retired effective February 2019. Please refer to the information link below for further details.
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. Note: This alert has been retired effective February 2016. Please refer to the information link below for further details.
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