Improving suicide risk assessment in the emergency department through physician education and a suicide risk assessment prompt

Gen Hosp Psychiatry. May-Jun 2018;52:34-40. doi: 10.1016/j.genhosppsych.2018.03.001. Epub 2018 Mar 2.

Abstract

Objective: To determine the efficacy of two interventions on suicide risk assessment within emergency departments (EDs) on improving the documentation of suicide risk factors by emergency medicine and psychiatric physicians during suicide risk assessment.

Method: An educational intervention on suicide was provided to all emergency medicine and psychiatry physicians and was followed by the placement of a suicide risk assessment prompt within local EDs. The medical charts of all ED patients presenting with suicidal ideation or behaviours were reviewed immediately and six months after the interventions and compared to pre-intervention. Differences in the documentation of 40 biopsychosocial suicide risk factors between specialties and after the interventions were determined.

Results: The documentation of 34/40 (p ≤ 0.008) and 33/40 (p ≤ 0.009) suicide risk factors was significantly improved by emergency medicine and psychiatry physicians, respectively, after the interventions and maintained six months later. Immediately and six months after the interventions, the documentation of 8/40 (p ≤ 0.041) and 14/40 (p ≤ 0.048) suicide risk factors, respectively, significantly differed between specialties.

Conclusion: This suggests that providing a brief educational intervention on suicide to emergency medicine and psychiatry physicians followed by placing a prompt for important, yet commonly undocumented risk factors within the ED is a low-cost and effective intervention for improving documentation of suicide risk assessments within the ED.

Keywords: Education intervention; Emergency department; Emergency psychiatry; Suicide; Suicide risk assessment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Education, Medical / methods*
  • Emergency Medicine / standards
  • Emergency Service, Hospital / standards*
  • Emergency Services, Psychiatric / standards
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Physicians / standards*
  • Psychiatry / standards
  • Risk Assessment / methods*
  • Risk Assessment / standards
  • Suicide*