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On February 25th, 2021 Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski proposed a bill to the United States Senate amending the Public Health Service Act to include a program that helps better identify and treat patients at risk of suicide. S.467, known as the Effective Suicide Screening and Assessment in the Emergency Department Act of 2021 has currently been referred to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (Congress, 2021). If this bill passes, policies and procedures will be implemented for identification and assessment of individuals at risk of suicide and improving coordination of care upon discharge for the individual. The passing of this bill will allow certain critical access facilities to be eligible for a grant which could be used to provide education for their staff members on proper assessment and identification of at-risk patients, to establish and implement new policies and procedures used to better care for these patients, and even hire behavioral healthcare staff (psychologists, psychiatrists, etc) able to provide proper care to identified patients (2021).
800,000 people die annually from suicide and suicide is the 11th leading cause of death in the United States (Brenner et. al., 2020). 8% of individuals who present to the ED have had recent suicidal ideations (2020). The Suicide Prevention Resource Center reports individuals at risk for suicide often seek help at an emergency department and up to 70% of patients who leave the ED after a suicide attempt do not go to their first outpatient appointment (SPRC, n.d.). With this knowledge, it is obvious that there is a brief period of time that medical staff can intervene and a need to improve the continuity of care for suicidal patients upon discharge. I strongly believe there is an ample amount of information related to caring for suicidal patients in the emergency room setting. This is a setting many patients seek care in and having trained staff to properly determine if each individual is at risk is crucial to changing their path and helping them obtain appropriate care.
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