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Mental Health Standard of Care Crucial After Suicide Attempt and Discharge from Emergency Room or Inpatient Psychiatric Facility

Psychiatric patients who have attempted suicide and are mostly likely to try again to end their lives are some of the least likely to follow up with mental health treatment after being released from a hospital, according to the Suicide Prevention Resource Center.

The resource center and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration recommend that a discharged psychiatry patient should be sent home with “linkage to certain and effective treatment,” according to the 2011 publication, “Suicide Attempts and Suicide Deaths Subsequent to Discharge from an Emergency Department or an Inpatient Psychiatry Unit: Continuity of Care for Suicide Prevention and Research.”

Unfortunately, even discharged patients with  suicide risk may not receive the follow-up psychological treatment they need.

Nationally recognized  Texas suicide lawyer Skip Simpson considers  standard of care (patient safety rules) for suicide patients to be of utmost priority at all times, including the days and weeks after an Emergency Department or inpatient  mental health facility discharges a patient.

Unfortunately, however, frequently suicidal patients do not always get the mental health care they need. “Many patients never make it to their first follow-up appointment,” says the report, “and many that do, do not remain in treatment long enough for continuing care to be successful. For both EDs (emergency departments) and inpatient discharges, the risk for suicide attempts and death among all age groups is highest immediately after discharge and over the next 12 months to four years. “

Simpson concurs. “The standard of care requires that all suicide risk assessments be documented in the record,” he explains. “If a clinician fails to perform, or improperly performs, an assessment, or if the clinician unreasonably underestimates the patient’s risk, she may well be liable if the patient dies by suicide, or makes a suicide attempt. Failure to take certain actions is unacceptable.”

With over 36,000 people taking their own lives every year in this country, it is vital for anyone who was recently released from a psychiatric unit or ED to follow up with proper mental health treatment. Those first few hours, days, and weeks after discharge are when a suicidal person is most vulnerable and may try to take his or her own life. Skip Simpson stresses this research perfectly matches what he sees in his practice over and over again.  He reviews about 50-60 suicide cases every year and hears suicide survivors say “if I had only known.”  This blog is an attempt to give loved ones the knowledge they need before a tragic attempt occurs.  It is also at attempt to give clinicians an opportunity to avoid the pain of having their patient seriously harm or kill themselves.

If you are a clinician who is reading this blog please get the training you need. Demand the training from your place of employment. If your employer will not provide the training because of budget concerns take the time to train yourself.  There is plenty of information on the internet to enable you to become more competent in suicide prevention.  Families are handing their loved ones over to you so you can keep them safe until they are properly treated.

If your loved one committed suicide or attempted suicide, whether as an inpatient or after coming home from the hospital or emergency room, you need an experienced suicide attorney. Call  Skip Simpson Attorneys and Counselors at 214-618-8222 or complete our online contact form. We understand what you are going through and can fight hard to pursue the compensation you and your family deserve.  Moreover, sadly it seems the only way clinicians, hospitals and emergency rooms will change their dangerous care is by paying the consequences for their poor care.

A final note.  Mr. Simpson rejects many more cases than he accepts. Not all attempted suicides are the result of incompetent care.  Mr. Simpson and the experts he retains distinguishes the cases where law suits are needed from those where no law suit should be filed.

The Law Offices of Skip Simpson

2591 Dallas Parkway, Suite 300

Frisco, Texas 75034