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Suicidal Patients: Defining and Addressing Emergencies

Although a busy Emergency Department (ED) is not the place for exhaustive psychiatric histories and assessments, it is important for triage nurses or other clinicians to be able to determine whether a patient needs a more throughout assessment. Basic screening assessments for suicidality may alert non-psychiatric clinicians to a patient’s need for further psychiatric treatment. Unfortunately, working in an ED without more extensive suicide prevention training could lead to reflexive categorizing of patients, from “faking it” to “straightforward” patients who seek treatment voluntarily. Utilizing the Science of Safety model can help achieve substantial improvement in quality and safety in health care.

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