Development and Implementation of a Universal Suicide Risk Screening Program in a Safety-Net Hospital System

Kimberly Roaten, Celeste Johnson, Russell Genzel, Fuad Khan, Carol S North

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

57 Scopus citations


Background Many individuals who die by suicide present for nonbehavioral health care prior to death. The risk is often undetected. Universal suicide screening in health care may improve risk recognition. A quality improvement project involving a universal suicide screening program was designed and developed in a large safety-net health care system. Methods The steps in developing and implementing this quality improvement program were gathering intelligence, examining resources, designing the screening program, creating a clinical response, constructing an electronic health record screening protocol, clinical workforce education, and program implementation. This project used the Columbia-Suicide Severity Rating Scale, Clinical Practice Screener–Recent, and a preliminary clinical decision support system. Results Prevalence data on suicide risk levels are provided for 328,064 adult encounters from the first six months of the screening program. Approximately half of the screens were completed in the outpatient clinics, more than 40% in the emergency department (ED), and slightly less than 5% in the hospital inpatient units. In the ED, 6.3% of the screens were positive, as were 1.6% in the inpatient units, and 2.1% in the outpatient clinics. The odds of a positive suicide screening in the ED was 4.29 times higher than the inpatient units and 3.13 times higher than the outpatient clinics. Conclusion A new quality improvement program for universal suicide screening was successfully implemented in a large safety-net health care system. The burden to the system from universal screening was not overwhelming and was managed effectively through thoughtful allocation of clinical resources.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4-11
Number of pages8
JournalJoint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Leadership and Management


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