Joint Commission – Anti-Safety in Action | WhiteCoat’s Call Room

“Severe pain can trigger suicide in hospital ERs” the headline reads. If they’re still calling it an “ER” you already know they’re clueless.

Since 1995, there have been 827 reports of patient suicides in the United States. Of those, about 14% are in non-behavioral health units, making a total of about 116 non-psychiatric inpatient suicides in 15 years.  That’s about 8 inpatient suicides per year out of 198 million inpatient days per year (644 inpatient days per 1000 population in US x 307 million US population) for a total chance of an inpatient committing suicide on any given day of … 1 in 24.75 million.  Now I admit that the numbers may be off by one in a couple million or so because reporting suicides is voluntary for hospitals, so not all suicides get reported.

via Joint Commission – Anti-Safety in Action | WhiteCoat’s Call Room.

Again, I went into medicine as I understood there would be little math.  Others are good at it, and thanks to White Coat for doing the heavy lifting.

Read his post, and enjoy the probably well-intentioned silliness.

And, marvel at what happens to every organization that outlasts its original mandate: it eventually has to keep ‘doing something’ to make all its parts relevant.  Unfortunately, what it does makes it more irrelevant than had they done nothing.

It must take a lot of fortitude to do nothing when that’s what is the right thing to do in these realms…which is why it seldom happens, if ever.


  1. TheNewGuy says:

    Heh… I still refer to myself as an “ER doc.”

  2. Patients are more likely to be struck by lightning or hit by a bus than a suicide in the inpatient setting.