Nursing

Blog spotlight: Tip: Assess patient suicide risk

Nurse Leader Insider, December 12, 2011

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Many patients who kill themselves in general hospital inpatient units don't have a psychiatric history or a history of suicide attempts, says Sharon Chaput, RN, C, CSHA, director of standards and quality management at Brattleboro Retreat, in Brattleboro, VT.

Furthermore, most medical-surgical units and EDs are not designed to care for suicidal patients and they don't routinely assess every patient, says Chaput.

Screening for suicide risk in the ED should include ordering a psychiatric consultation to assess the immediate risk of individuals admitted for medical treatment following a suicide attempt, communicating suicide risk screening results at handoff, and interventions to prevent suicide in those patients at increased risk, she says.

This includes the following measures:

  • Checking patients for contraband that could be used to commit suicide
  • Involving patients in care planning and decision-making
  • Ensuring that patient care considers age and cultural considerations


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