Nursing

Emergency department visits for suicidal thoughts more than doubled in 7 years

Nurse Leader Insider, March 9, 2017

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By Jennifer Thew, RN for Health Leaders Media

Patients visiting the ED for suicidal thoughts were more likely to receive inpatient care than patients visiting the ED for other reasons. Costs ranged from $600 million to $2.2 billion over the seven-year period.

From 2006 to 2013, ED visits by adults with suicidal thoughts more than doubled, according to an AHRQ statistical brief. On average, these visits rose by 12% each year over the seven-year period.

By 2013, 1% of all adult ED visits were related to suicidal ideation up from 0.4% in 2013.

The top five most common behavioral health conditions among ED patients with suicidal thoughts in 2013 were:
 

  • Mood disorders
  • Substance-related disorders
  • Alcohol-related disorders
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders
     

Mood disorders were related to three-fourths of all ED visits related to suicidal ideation.

Patients visiting the ED for suicidal thoughts were more likely to receive inpatient care than patients visiting the ED for other reasons.

In 2013, more than 71% of ED visits related to suicidal ideation resulted in admission to the same hospital or transfer to another facility compared with 19% percent of all other ED visits. From 2006 to 2013, the percentage of ED patients with suicidal ideation admitted to the same hospital increased from about 34% to 41%.

Cost of inpatient care among these patients has risen over the seven-year period. The statistical brief reports that from 2006 to 2013, aggregate ED plus inpatient costs of ED visits related to suicidal ideation resulting admission to the same hospital rose from $600 million to $2.2 billion.

The average length of stay rose to 5.6 days from 5.1 days, an increase of half a day.

ED visits related to suicidal thoughts were more likely to occur for patients from lower income communities compared to patients from higher income communities.

These patients were more likely to have Medicaid or to be uninsured compared to patients visiting the ED for other reasons, who were insured by Medicare or private insurance.


For advice about instituting a Suicide Risk Screening Program, check out HCPro's recent webinar on the topic.

 



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