Improvement of Suicide Screening Process and Response

Norah Vo, BSN, RN-BC

As the United States continued to experience a national increase in suicide, Rush University Medical Center, led by psychiatric nursing, looked closely at our process for identifying patients at risk for suicide and continually improving the process to provide care that is safe, compassionate and effective for these individuals.

In that spirit, a house-wide evaluation and update of our suicide screening process and response occurred in March and April 2019. This evaluation led to house-wide changes in our change to risk stratification, policy and process throughout the medical center.

These changes were closely monitored in Fiscal Year 2020 to ensure safety and compliance, including at-the-elbow support from a psychiatric RN doing in-person audits early in the process through summer 2019. As the fiscal year progressed, daily audits continued, and end-user feedback was carefully examined to review not only how to keep patients safe, but how to make the process seamless and clear for nursing staff and advanced practice providers at the bedside. With that in mind, changes were made to the process throughout FY 20 including:

  • Moving checklists and reminders from paper into the Epic electronic medical record
  • Providing automated reminders to providers, nurses and assistive personnel regarding key safety checks
  • Updating safety check language and checklist content to be consistent with end-user language and to incorporate past events and good catches over time

Audit and quality improvement efforts continue through the present day as we continue to work to protect our most vulnerable patients.

Compliance chart