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Did you know that suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S?. And with no improvement in suicide rates, the Joint Commission continues to emphasize the NPSG suicide risk reduction standard This standard highlights the importance of identifying and effectively managing patients at risk of self-harm or suicide.

In fact, this is a frequently cited standard for both Hospitals and Behavioral Health Care organizations. Moreover, utilizing validated tools for assessing suicide risk is a key component to successfully complying with this standard.

Validated Tools: An Evidenced Based Approach to Suicide Risk Assessment

Suicide risk assessment involves evaluating multiple factors, including mental health history, current symptoms, recent life events, and protective factors. But, relying solely on clinical judgment without the aid of validated tools may introduce subjectivity and increase the likelihood of oversight.

In fact, validated tools, such as questionnaires and structured interviews, have been developed and tested to provide a standardized and evidence-based approach to suicide risk assessment. These tools help clinicians gather pertinent information and identify specific risk factors reliably. By using validated tools, healthcare professionals can ensure a systematic and consistent evaluation process, reducing the potential for errors and omissions.

The Benefits of Using Validated Tools for Suicide Risk Assessment

Standardization is a key benefit of using validated tools. It is critical to establish consistent guidelines and criteria for assessing suicide risk across healthcare settings. Thus, standardization enables healthcare professionals to reliably identify and categorize patients at varying levels of risk, allowing for appropriate intervention and management.

The use of validated tools adds objectivity to the assessment process and mitigates the influence of personal biases, enabling clinicians to rely on objective indicators when assessing suicide risk. This objectivity enhances the accuracy of risk identification and reduces the likelihood of underestimating or overestimating a patient’s vulnerability.

Efficiency is critical in healthcare. Validated tools offer a structured framework that facilitates a comprehensive assessment within a reasonable timeframe. By streamlining the process, clinicians can efficiently gather the necessary information and make informed decisions about intervention strategies and appropriate levels of care.

Documentation within a validated tool promotes thorough documentation of the suicide risk assessment process. This documentation ensures a clear record of the evaluation, facilitating continuity of care. Plus, it provides valuable information for subsequent healthcare providers.

Selecting and Implementing Suicide Risk Validated Tools

Your organization should carefully evaluate and select validated tools. They should align with your specific patient populations, clinical workflows, and available resources. When choosing a tool, organizations should consider these factors:

  • Reliability
  • Validity
  • Ease of use
  • Compatibility with electronic health record systems

Furthermore, your organization must invest in comprehensive training for your staff and leaders on the proper administration and interpretation of selected tools. Adequate training ensures the accurate implementation of suicide risk assessments and maximizes the potential benefits of using validated tools.

Validated Tools for Suicide Risk Reduction Resources

The Joint Commission developed multiple resources to support organizations in identifying and implementing evidenced-based, validated tools for suicide risk reduction. If you haven’t already, visit the Joint Commission Suicide Prevention Portal, visit it now.

In addition, visit the Joint Commission Measurement Based Care Portal which houses over 80 standardized instruments for evidenced-based care. Several instruments are for suicide risk screening and/or assessment. Other tools incorporate a component of suicide risk assessment within the tool. Visit these portals often as information is updated regularly. Also, Joint Commission FAQs, Sentinel Event Alerts, and Perspectives are important sources for suicide risk reduction tools.

Additional Resources for Joint Commission Suicide Risk Reduction Standard

Look at the previous Barrins & Associates Suicide Risk Reduction posts for more information.

Implications for your Joint Commission Survey

Joint Commission surveyors continue to focus on NPSG as a high-risk patient safety issue. Through individual tracers, it is important that you demonstrate the use of validated tools in identifying and managing patients at risk of self-harm or suicide. Surveyors will evaluate your evidenced-based approach to suicide risk assessment, the degree to which the process is standardized and validated tools are integrated into workflows. They will review evidence of staff orientation and training on the validated tools, and whether, as a result the use of these tools, suicide risk is mitigated.

Barrins & Associates Consultation

Barrins & Associates is available to assist your organization in incorporating the use of evidenced-based standardized tools to meet the suicide risk reduction standard and reduce the risk of suicide for the individuals you serve. Additionally, we provide Mock Survey and Continuous Readiness Consultations. We continue to be your partner in achieving and sustaining Joint Commission Accreditation and regulatory compliance.