Joint Commission to add more suicide risk screening requirements for hospitals

The Joint Commission will require healthcare organizations to maintain screening tools and other procedures for patients at risk of suicide as part of its accreditation process, starting July 1, 2019.

The revised requirements, included in The Joint Commission's National Patient Safety Goal resource, are based on more than a year of research and analysis from multiple expert panels.

The Joint Commission created the NPSG in 2002 to help accredited healthcare facilities improve patient safety. The document has included suicide prevention as an element of performance for hospitals since 2007.

The NPSG will now assess hospitals on the following elements of performance for suicide prevention:

  • Environmental risk assessment and action to minimize suicide risk
  • Use of a validated screening tool to assess patients at risk
  • Evidence-based process for conducting suicide risk assessments of patients screened positive for suicidal ideation
  • Documentation of patients' risk and the plan to mitigate
  • Written policies and procedures addressing care of at-risk patients and evidence they are followed
  • Policies and procedures for counseling and follow-up care for at-risk patients at discharge
  • Monitoring of implementation and effectiveness, with action taken as needed to improve compliance

"The science of suicide prevention has really advanced over the past few years," David W. Baker, MD, executive vice president for the division of healthcare quality evaluation at The Joint Commission, said in a press release. "We had not updated the NPSG since its original release in 2007. This revised version and the accompanying resource compendium will more robustly support healthcare organizations in preventing suicide among patients in their care."

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