The Joint Commission is making efforts to improve the recognition and treatment of patients with suicidal thoughts. The organization recently issued a Sentinel Event Alert about suicide to raise awareness among healthcare providers in primary care, emergency, and behavioral health settings who, it says, can play an important role in detecting patients with suicidal thoughts and making sure they are evaluated appropriately.

The Sentinel Event Alert and accompanying infographic from The Joint Commission offer healthcare providers information on detecting suicidal thoughts in patients they may see. Some of the topics covered include assessing a patient’s personal and family history for risk factors, screening patients with brief, evidence-based screening tools and reviewing the results before the patient is discharged, as well as safety planning and documenting decisions about care. The goal is to help improve identification and treatment of patients who have suicide ideation.

Emergency Medicine Reports covered the topic of evaluating and treating potentially suicidal patients in the emergency department in 2013. The article discusses risk factors, use of screening tools, and hospitalization. Be sure to check back for the upcoming May issue of ED Management, which will cover how emergency personnel can effectively assess patients for risk and connect them with appropriate care.