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- Explain to patients who ask that the instrument described here is a screening tool only, and that patients with a high-risk score need further evaluation by a mental health professional.
- This study was published as an abstract and presented orally at a conference. These data and conclusions should be considered to be preliminary as they have not yet been reviewed and published in a peer-reviewed publication
SAN DIEGO, May 25 -- Emergency department patients who may be suicidal can be identified with a simple tool designed for use by health professionals without a mental health background.
The risk-assessment tool, which goes by the tortuous acronymSAD PERSONS, assigns one point to each of 10 items on a risk-factor scale, reported Brian P. Miller, M.D. and Roseann Giordano, R.N., M.S., both of Grossmont Hospital in Costa Mesa, Calif. A score on the scale from seven to 10 indicates that the patient is at high risk for attempting suicide.
"We use this in a community-based hospital," said Dr. Miller, clinical director of Grossmont Hospital, at the American Psychiatric Association meeting here.
"It's designed for non-mental health professionals to use, so in our setting, the triage nurse in the emergency department uses this scale," he continued. "When people come into the emergency department and they've got a psychiatric complaint, or known substance abuse history, we give them the scale and it gives the triage nurse the ability to direct the patient at that point."