Welfare Checks and Therapeutic Risk Management

J Psychiatr Pract. 2019 Nov;25(6):470-474. doi: 10.1097/PRA.0000000000000434.


In clinical practice, welfare checks have become a fairly common aspect of suicide prevention. At the same time, the medical literature provides almost no guidance to inform clinicians under what circumstances welfare checks should be requested, how best to go about placing those requests, or how to document decision-making related to this important subject. Literature searches spanning both PubMed and Google Scholar failed to yield any applicable results. Performed correctly, welfare checks have the potential to be life-saving interventions for persons in suicidal crises. Performed incorrectly, welfare checks may become an overly defensive practice that damages therapeutic relationships, violates patients' rights, and consumes important and limited community resources. The need for thoughtful guidance to assist clinicians in navigating these difficult clinical scenarios is long overdue. This column, the second in a 2-part series, offers an approach to welfare checks informed by the tenets of therapeutic risk management.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Professional-Patient Relations*
  • Risk Management / methods*
  • Suicide / psychology
  • Suicide Prevention*