Quality of Care for Youth Hospitalized for Suicidal Ideation and Self-Harm

Acad Pediatr. 2021 Sep-Oct;21(7):1179-1186. doi: 10.1016/j.acap.2021.05.019. Epub 2021 May 28.


Objective: To examine performance on quality measures for pediatric inpatient suicidal ideation/self-harm care, and whether performance is associated with reutilization.

Methods: Retrospective observational 8 hospital study of patients [N = 1090] aged 5 to 17 years hospitalized for suicidal ideation/self-harm between 9/1/14 and 8/31/16. Two medical records-based quality measures assessing suicidal ideation/self-harm care were evaluated, one on counseling caregivers regarding restricting access to lethal means and the other on communication between inpatient and outpatient providers regarding the follow-up plan. Multivariable logistic regression assessed associations between quality measure scores and 1) hospital site, 2) patient demographics, and 3) 30-day emergency department return visits and inpatient readmissions.

Results: Medical record documentation revealed that, depending on hospital site, 17% to 98% of caregivers received lethal means restriction counseling (mean 70%); inpatient-to-outpatient provider communication was documented in 0% to 51% of cases (mean 16%). The odds of documenting receipt of lethal means restriction counseling was higher for caregivers of female patients compared to caregivers of male patients (adjusted odds ratio [aOR] 1.51, 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.07-2.14). The odds of documenting inpatient-to-outpatient provider follow-up plan communication was lower for Black patients compared to White patients (aOR 0.45, 95% CI, 0.24-0.84). All-cause 30-day readmission was lower for patients with documented caregiver receipt of lethal means restriction counseling (aOR 0.48, 95% CI, 0.28-0.83).

Conclusions: This study revealed disparities and deficits in the quality of care received by youth with suicidal ideation/self-harm. Providing caregivers lethal means restriction counseling prior to discharge may help to prevent readmission.

Keywords: inpatient; mental health; quality of care; readmission; youth.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Emergency Service, Hospital
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Patient Discharge
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Self-Injurious Behavior* / therapy
  • Suicidal Ideation*