Suicide in Hospital
Suicide attempts leading to catastrophic injury or death can occur in any area of the hospital. Hospital psychiatric units are specifically designed to prevent suicide and a patient in such a unit should never have the opportunity or means to make a serious suicide attempt.
Suicidal patients receiving care in the emergency room or medical-surgical unit after a suicide attempt must be carefully monitored to prevent another suicide attempt as these patients have greater access to the means of inflicting self-harm than do patients in a psychiatric unit.
When a patient in a locked psychiatric unit suffers catastrophic injury or death due to a suicide attempt, common mistakes on the part of staff include:
Failure to search and remove dangerous items from patient upon admission to the unit
Failure to deny patient access to items on unit that can be used for self-harm, including belts, sharp objects, and medications
Failure to remove anchor points that can be used for hanging and replace with breakaway shower curtains and rods and door handles
Failure to conduct serial suicide assessments and adjust monitoring level appropriately, including institution of one-on-one monitoring
Failure to properly supervise patient while off the unit
When a hospitalized patient is receiving treatment for injuries due to a suicide attempt in areas of the hospital other than the psychiatric unit, common mistakes on the part of staff include:
Failure to assess the patient for ongoing suicidality
Failure to implement appropriate monitoring level, including one-on-one monitoring, while the patient receives treatment for injuries
Failure to obtain consultation from psychiatry
If you or a family member have suffered a catastrophic injury or loss due to medical malpractice, contact Bill Maddix, a Minnesota medical malpractice lawyer, for a free consultation.
For Free Consultation:
Call (612) 418-0263