Assessing and Managing Suicide Risk: Guidelines for Clinically Based Risk Management

Front Cover
American Psychiatric Pub, 20. mai 2008 - 256 pages

Patient suicide is an unavoidable occupational hazard of psychiatric practice. Indeed, it is the rare clinician who does not struggle, even agonize, over the complex task of assessing and managing the risk of suicide in patients. Patient suicides account for the greatest number of malpractice suits filed against psychiatrists and for the greatest number of settlements and verdicts covered by professional liability insurers.

In this book, written by a clinician for clinicians, Dr. Simon, an established expert in psychiatry and law, offers A solid, easy-to-understand review of how medical malpractice law applies to patient suicides. He discusses the standards of care physicians must meet, the conditions associated with malpractice liability, and how best to minimize risks of litigation. Extensive references to peer-reviewed literature on suicide and recent malpractice cases, including those triggered by patient suicides, which give insight into the latest developments in both the scientific community and the courts. Much-needed practical advice, including advice on working with suicide risk assessments and suicide prevention contracts, on treating suicidal patients in various settings (outpatient, inpatient, collaborative, and emergency), and on coping with issues arising in the aftermath of a patient's suicide (documentation, confidentiality, and survivor care). Clearly defined risk management guidelines that will help clinicians avoid litigation or establish a sound legal defense if sued for malpractice. Numerous case examples that make the theoretical discussions and clinically based risk management guidelines that follow come alive.

Rich in advice that draws on the author's more than 40 years of clinical experience, this book serves as an essential aid to clinicians.

From inside the book

Selected pages


Suicide and Malpractice Litigation
N Suicide Risk Assessment
Partial Hospitalization Programs and Intensive
Emergency Psychiatric Services
Index of Legal Cases and Statutes

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Common terms and phrases

Popular passages

Page 71 - I am tired of tears and laughter, And men that laugh and weep, Of what may come hereafter For men that sow to reap: I am weary of days and hours, Blown buds of barren flowers, Desires and dreams and powers, And everything but sleep.
Page 97 - We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately.
Page 104 - When the psychiatrist assumes a collaborative or supervisory role with another mental health worker, he/she must expend sufficient time to assure that proper care is given. It is contrary to the interests of the patient and to patient care if he/she allows himself/herself to be used as a figurehead.
Page iii - There is but one truly serious philosophical problem, and that is suicide. Judging whether life is or is not worth living amounts to answering the fundamental question of philosophy.
Page xix - LITIGATION, n. A machine which you go into as a pig and come out of as a sausage.
Page 49 - Childhood abuse, household dysfunction, and the risk of attempted suicide throughout the life span: Findings from the Adverse Childhood Experiences Study.
Page 165 - ... in a real dark night of the soul it is always three o'clock in the morning, day after day.
Page 71 - The thought of suicide is a great consolation: by means of it one gets successfully through many a bad night.
Page 48 - Beck AT, Brown G, Berchick RJ, et al: Relationship between hopelessness and ultimate suicide: a replication with psychiatric outpatients. Am J Psychiatry 147:190-195, 1990a Beck AT, Freeman A, and Associates: Cognitive Therapy of Personality Disorders.

About the author (2008)

Robert I. Simon, M.D., is Clinical Professor of Psychiatry and Director of the Program in Psychiatry and Law at Georgetown University School of Medicine in Washington, DC, and Chairman of the Department of Psychiatry at Suburban Hospital in Bethesda, Maryland.

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