The Joint Commission today issued guidance to help hospitals and surveyors determine what constitutes adequate environmental safeguards to protect patients with suicidal ideation from self-harm. Developed by an expert panel including representatives from provider organizations and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, the guidance addresses only the most debated and contentious issues related to environmental hazards in inpatient psychiatric units, general medical-surgical inpatient settings and emergency departments. “Over the last year there have been several specific situations where surveyors for The Joint Commission and/or state agencies have disagreed on what constitutes a ligature risk and what mitigation strategies are acceptable,” the guidance notes. “There needs to be consensus on these issues so that health care organizations will know what changes they need to make to keep patients safe and so surveyors can reliably assess organizations’ compliance with standards.” The Joint Commission will continue to convene its expert panel to discuss issues related to suicide prevention and will add additional information to the guidance once available.

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