Evaluating and treating the suicidal patient

This article is published in the 2019 edition of the Reporter, Q1 and is available as a CME course.


In addition to the personal and emotional consequences for a physician when a patient commits suicide, providers may also face liability risk from patient suicide. The suicide rate has risen more than 30 percent in the last decade.1 That rise means that suicide, or “intentional self-harm,” ranks in the top 10 causes of death in the United States.2 Most people (80 percent) who commit suicide are seen by their primary care physician within a year of their death; few had contact with a psychiatric specialist (25-30 percent).3 This article explores the topic of suicide, particularly risk management considerations and legal implications for physicians and health care providers treating potentially suicidal patients.

View the entire article as well as sources used in the Reporter, Q3 2018, pages 2-13. Remaining sections include:

  • Suicide statistics
  • Risk factors for suicide
  • Evaluation and treatment of the potentially suicidal patient
  • How to screen patients for suicidal ideation
  • Taking action on behalf of the patient
  • Education and documentation
  • Litigation involving suicide case studies

Reporter Q1 2019

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