Joint Commission issues suicide risk Sentinel Event Alert

Accreditation Connection, November 19, 2010

the Joint Commission’s latest Sentinel Event Alert targets suicide risk in the non-psychiatric hospital arena, specifically the emergency department (ED) and medical/surgical units.

This alert urges for education for caregivers to watch for signs that a patient may be contemplating self-harm. According to the official Joint Commission alert, many patients who attempt suicide in the hospital setting do not have a prior history of mental health issues, and lists risk factors like chronic pain, dementia, poor or terminal diagnoses, and substance abuse as reasons patients without a history of mental illness might contemplate self-harm.

According to the CDC, suicide ranks 11th in the leading causes of death in the US. Nearly a quarter of suicides reported occur in non-psychiatric settings.

This latest Sentinel Event Alert offers tips and suggestions for hospitals to improve suicide risk education and awareness. For more information, visit The Joint Commission’s official site.

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