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Joint Commission to Require Hospitals to Screen for Suicide Risk

In response to increasing suicide rates in the United States, the Joint Commission has added seven requirements to the National Patient Safety Goals requiring hospitals to establish assessment tools and standardize procedures to treat patients at risk of suicide.

Effective July 1, 2019, the new requirements include:

  • conducting environmental risk assessments to identify objects that could be used to attempt suicide and minimize those risks;
  • screening patients being evaluated for behavioral health conditions for suicidal ideation;
  • performing a suicide risk assessment of patients who have screened positive for suicidal ideation;
  • documenting patients’ level of risk for suicide and plan to mitigate the risk for suicide;
  • training and evaluating staff who care for patients at risk for suicide;
  • creating discharge policies for patients at risk; and
  • monitoring and assessing the effectiveness of these policies.

Joint Commission accreditation surveys occur every three years. Hospitals that do not comply with requirements are issued citations and must submit a plan of correction.

Contact Senior Director of Policy Erin O’Malley at eomalley@essentialhospitals.org or 202.585.0127 with questions.

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About the Author

Emily Schweich is a communications associate for America's Essential Hospitals.

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