The winter holiday season is a busy time in most EDs. Colder weather, respiratory infections, and many factors contribute to this. However Christmas Day and New Year’s Day in particular are two of the deadliest days of the year. Missed medications due to travel, delayed presentations because of a desire to stay home for family gatherings, increased stress, alcohol and substance abuse, travel, and drunk driving, are just a few of the things that can contribute to morbidity and mortality in patients of all ages, and particularly in older adults. If you are working this holiday season, here is a glimpse of what you can expect.
Dr. Rob Orman emailed me last week about creating a pocket card on Suicide Risk Stratification. In many community ED’s, risk assessment is done by the emergency physician. I’m lucky where I work, because we have a 24/7 psychiatric ED, which consults on suicidal patients in the “medical ED”.
In the end, assessment is primarily based on physician judgment, because there’s no great clinical decision tool, rules, or scores to assess risk. Rob has created his own mnemonic to help you ask the right questions in assessing a suicidal patient. This is a sneak peek into a larger article that Rob is planning to unleash on the world on suicide assessment. Based on his review of the literature and own clinical experience, the mnemonic is: TRAAPPED SILO SAFE.