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. 


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Call (612) 418-0263


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