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A multidisciplinary approach to therapeutic risk management of the suicidal patient

Authors Grant C, Lusk J

Received 16 February 2015

Accepted for publication 26 March 2015

Published 24 June 2015 Volume 2015:8 Pages 291—298


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 4

Editor who approved publication: Dr Scott Fraser

Cynthia L Grant,1,2 Jaimie L Lusk3

1Arapahoe/Douglas Mental Health Network, Englewood, CO, 2School of Education and Human Development, University of Colorado Denver, Denver, CO, 3Mental Health Service, VA Portland Health Care System, Portland, OR, USA

Abstract: As health care trends toward a system of care approach, providers from various disciplines strive to collaborate to provide optimal care for their patients. While a multidisciplinary approach to suicide risk assessment and management has been identified as important for reducing suicidality, standardized clinical guidelines for such an approach do not yet exist. In this article, the authors propose the adoption of the therapeutic risk management of the suicidal patient (TRMSP) to improve suicide risk assessment and management within multidisciplinary systems of care. The TRMSP, which has been fully articulated in previous articles, involves augmenting clinical risk assessment with structured instruments, stratifying risk in terms of both severity and temporality, and developing and documenting a safety plan. Augmenting clinical risk assessments with reliable and valid structured instruments serves several functions, including ensuring important aspects of suicide are addressed, establishing a baseline for suicidal thoughts and behaviors, facilitating interprofessional communication, and mitigating risk. Similarly, a two-dimensional risk stratification qualifying suicide risk in terms of both severity and temporality can enhance communication across providers and settings and improve understanding of acute crises in the context of chronic risk. Finally, safety planning interventions allow providers and patients to collaboratively create a personally meaningful plan for managing a suicidal crisis that can be continually modified across time with multiple providers in different care settings. In a busy care environment, the TRMSP can provide concrete guidance on conducting clinically and medicolegally sound suicide risk assessment and management. This collaborative and comprehensive process would potentially improve care of patients with suicidality, optimize clinical resources, decrease unnecessary and costly admissions, and mitigate medicolegal risk. The TRMSP may serve as a foundation for building a standardized, collaborative, stepped-care approach that patients, individual providers, and the health care system can all benefit from.

Keywords: suicide risk assessment, multidisciplinary, systems of care

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