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Joint Commission releases suicide prevention recommendations


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The Joint Commission has released a special report on suicide prevention in the November edition of Perspectives. The report contains recommendations from an expert panel on how to mitigate environmental hazards that suicidal patients could use to harm themselves.

Annually, there are 460,000 emergency department visits that occur following cases of self-harm, and the patients treated during those visits are six times more likely to make another suicide attempt in the future. Nationally, suicide is the 10th leading cause of death, a fact that hasn't gone unnoticed by CMS and The Joint Commission.

 “As healthcare organizations and accrediting bodies intensify efforts to make the healthcare environment safer, it is critical to use available data and expert opinion to have clear guidelines on what constitutes serious environmental hazards that must be corrected and what mitigation strategies are acceptable in those situations when all potential hazards cannot be removed,” The Joint Commission wrote.

In 2016, The Joint Commission issued a Sentinel Event Alert  urging hospitals to do a better job of identifying suicidal ideation in patients. Since then accreditor has doubled down, issuing specific warnings in Joint Commission publications and FAQs outlining concerns about ligature, or hanging, risks.

The panel convened for the third time on October 11 to talk about ligature risks in behavioral healthcare settings. The panel plans to meet once more before 2018.

Read the full report to see all the recommendations for inpatient psychiatric units, general acute inpatient settings, and emergency departments.