Actions and implementation strategies to reduce suicidal events in the Veterans Health Administration
ABSTRACT Veterans possess many risk factors for suicide, making suicide prevention in the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) a particular challenge.
An analysis was conducted of 94 aggregated root cause analyses (RCAs) for parasuicidal behavior and 43 single-case suicide RCAs submitted from 75 VHA facilities to determine primary root causes for suicide and parasuicidal behaviors and to gain information about action plans, success factors and obstacles to improvement. Telephone follow-up interviews were conducted with each facility.
The aggregate reviews included 775 individual cases of parasuicidal behavior. The top root causes of parasuicidal behavior were poor assessment and communication of patient risk, patient stressors, and need for staff and patients training. Forty-eight percent of the action plans developed to address the root causes involved a policy change, 30% involved staff training, and 14% involved making a specific clinical change. Eight-eight percent of the actions adequately addressed the root cause, of which 68.1% were fully implemented.
There is little agreement on the definition of "parasuicide," and it is likely the case that parasuicide behaviors are underreported in our system. To encourage reporting, patient safety staff should collaborate with providers and use a more inclusive definition of parasuicide.
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ABSTRACT: Using merged Veterans Affairs (VA) and National Death Index data, this study examined changes in suicide rate among three cohorts of VA mental health outpatients during a time of extensive bed closures and system-wide reorganization (1995, N = 76,105; 1997, N = 81,512; and 2001, N = 102,184). There was a decreasing but nonsignificant trend in suicide rates over time-13.2, 11.4, and 10.3 per 10,000 person-years, respectively. Multivariable predictors of suicide included both younger and older ages (U-shaped association). At the facility level, there was an association between greater per capita outpatient mental health expenditure and reduced suicide risk. The model also showed a protective effect associated with increased mental health spending on inpatient services, and that outpatients at facilities with larger mental health programs, as measured by patient volume, were at greater risk for suicide than were those in smaller programs. Although more chronic patients may have been underrepresented to some extent as a result of the sampling methodology, these findings provide generally reassuring evidence that overall suicide rates have not been adversely affected by VA system changes. Nevertheless, they highlight the importance of funding for mental health services as well as the implications of changing demographics in the VA population.The Journal of Behavioral Health Services & Research 02/2008; 35(1):115-24. DOI:10.1007/s11414-007-9092-0 · 1.37 Impact Factor
- JAMA The Journal of the American Medical Association 03/2008; 299(6):685-7. DOI:10.1001/jama.299.6.685 · 35.29 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: There is now a plethora of different quality improvement strategies (QIS) for optimizing health care, some clinician/patient driven, others manager/policy-maker driven. Which of these are most effective remains unclear despite expressed concerns about potential for QIS-related patient harm and wasting of resources. The objective of this study was to review published literature assessing the relative effectiveness of different QIS. Data sources comprising PubMed Clinical Queries, Cochrane Library and its Effective Practice and Organization of Care database, and HealthStar were searched for studies of QIS between January 1985 and February 2008 using search terms based on an a priori QIS classification suggested by experts. Systematic reviews of controlled trials were selected in determining effect sizes for specific QIS, which were compared as a narrative meta-review. Clinician/patient driven QIS were associated with stronger evidence of efficacy and larger effect sizes than manager/policy-maker driven QIS. The most effective strategies (>10% absolute increase in appropriate care or equivalent measure) included clinician-directed audit and feedback cycles, clinical decision support systems, specialty outreach programmes, chronic disease management programmes, continuing professional education based on interactive small-group case discussions, and patient-mediated clinician reminders. Pay-for-performance schemes directed to clinician groups and organizational process redesign were modestly effective. Other manager/policy-maker driven QIS including continuous quality improvement programmes, risk and safety management systems, public scorecards and performance reports, external accreditation, and clinical governance arrangements have not been adequately evaluated with regard to effectiveness. QIS are heterogeneous and methodological flaws in much of the evaluative literature limit validity and generalizability of results. Based on current best available evidence, clinician/patient driven QIS appear to be more effective than manager/policy-maker driven QIS although the latter have, in many instances, attracted insufficient robust evaluations to accurately determine their comparative effectiveness.Internal Medicine Journal 07/2009; 39(6):389-400. DOI:10.1111/j.1445-5994.2008.01798.x · 1.64 Impact Factor