Documenting suicide risk assessments and proportionate clinical actions to improve patient safety and mitigate legal risk
Behavioral sciences & the law | 8 May 2019
IH Stanley, S Simpson, HS Wortzel and TE Joiner
Few clinical practices are as important for simultaneously augmenting patient safety and mitigating legal risk as the judicious evaluation and stratification of a patient’s risk for suicide, proportionate clinical actions based thereon taken by the healthcare provider, and contemporaneous documentation of the foregoing. In this article, we draw from our combined decades of multidisciplinary experience as a clinical psychologist, forensic psychiatrist, medical malpractice attorney, and clinical psychology trainee to discuss the documentation of suicide risk assessment and management as a conduit to patient safety and legal risk mitigation. We additionally highlight documentation as a core clinical competency across disciplines and note areas of improvement, such as increased training, to bolster documentation practices.
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