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Legislation/Regulation > Sentinel Event Alerts
A follow-up report on preventing suicide: focus on medical/surgical units and the emergency department.
Sentinel Event Alert. 2010 Nov 17;(46):1-4.
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.
Journal Article > Commentary
Smetzer J, Baker C, Byrne FD, Cohen MR. Jt Comm J Qual Patient Saf. 2010;36:152-163, 1AP-2AP.
This article discusses how a hospital responded to a fatal medication error that occurred when a nurse mistakenly administered epidural pain medication intravenously to a pregnant teenager. Findings from the root cause analysis of the error revealed underlying factors including fatigue (the nurse had worked a double shift the day before), failed safety systems (the hospital had recently implemented a bar coding system, but not all nurses were trained and workarounds were routine), and human factors engineering (bags containing antibiotics and pain medications were similar in appearance and could be accessed with the same type of catheter). A range of safety interventions were implemented as a result. However, the related editorials by leaders in the safety field (Drs. Sidney Dekker, Charles Denham, and Lucian Leape) take the hospital to task for focusing on narrow improvements rather than using complexity theory to solve underlying problems, and for creating a "second victim" by disciplining the nurse (who was fired and ultimately criminally prosecuted) rather than acknowledging the institution's responsibility and the caregiver's emotional distress. The article and commentaries provide a fascinating, in-depth look at the true impact of a never event.