Joint Commission announces new National Patient Safety Goal to prevent suicide and improve at-risk patient care

Revisions effective July 1, 2019, for accredited hospitals and behavioral health programs Wednesday, December 05 2018

Maureen Lyons
Corporate Communications
(OAKBROOK TERRACE, Illinois, December 5, 2018) – The Joint Commission has announced revisions to its National Patient Safety Goal (NPSG) addressing suicide prevention to improve quality and safety of care for patients treated for behavioral health conditions and those identified at high risk for suicide. 
Applicable to all Joint Commission-accredited hospitals and behavioral health care organizations, the revised requirements are based on more than a year of research, public field review and analysis with multiple panels convened by The Joint Commission and representing provider organizations, experts in suicide prevention and behavioral health care facility design, and other key stakeholders across the United States. 

NPSG 15.01.01 - Reduce the risk for suicide becomes effective July 1, 2019. A just-published R3 Report from The Joint Commission details the new and revised requirements, and the rationale and research behind each.

The NPSG encompasses seven elements of performance (EPs) on which The Joint Commission will review hospitals and behavioral health care organizations during accreditation surveys—an increase from three EPs in the existing NPSG 15.01.01 - Identify individuals at risk for suicide.  

The Joint Commission began its re-evaluation of the NPSG in 2016. Suicide remains the 10th leading cause of death in the United States, and the number of in-hospital suicides reported as sentinel events has not improved over the last seven years. 

“The science of suicide prevention has really advanced over the past few years, including better tools for screening, assessment of suicidal ideation, identification of environmental hazards in health care facilities, and methods to prevent suicide after discharge,” says David W. Baker, MD, MPH, FACP, executive vice president, Division of Health Care Quality Evaluation, The Joint Commission. “We had not updated the NPSG since its original release in 2007. This revised version and the accompanying resource compendium will more robustly support health care organizations in preventing suicide among patients in their care.”

The new and revised requirements address:

  • Environmental risk assessment and action to minimize suicide risk
  • Use of a validated screening tool to assess patients at risk
  • Evidence-based process for conducting suicide risk assessments of patients screened positive for suicidal ideation
  • Documentation of patients’ risk and the plan to mitigate
  • Written policies and procedures addressing care of at-risk patients, and evidence they are followed
  • Policies and procedures for counseling and follow-up care for at-risk patients at discharge
  • Monitoring of implementation and effectiveness, with action taken as needed to improve compliance
The Joint Commission established its NPSG program in 2002 to help its accredited organizations address specific areas of patient safety concern. 
Goals are specific to each health care provider segment that The Joint Commission accredits and certifies, including hospitals, critical access hospitals, behavioral health care organizations, home care services, laboratories, nursing care centers and ambulatory health care centers. The NPSGs address problematic patient safety issues ranging from surgical-site infections and central line-associated bloodstream infections to hand hygiene and patient falls.

Over the years, the NPSG program has helped the nation’s health care organizations reduce and even eliminate patient safety problems and tragic errors like deaths from mistaken injections of concentrated potassium chloride. 

Accredited organizations’ performance on NPSGs, based on valid clinical data submitted to The Joint Commission as an accreditation requirement, is available for each organization via its Quality Report at   

About The Joint Commission
Founded in 1951, The Joint Commission seeks to continuously improve health care for the public, in collaboration with other stakeholders, by evaluating health care organizations and inspiring them to excel in providing safe and effective care of the highest quality and value. The Joint Commission accredits and certifies more than 21,000 health care organizations and programs in the United States. An independent, nonprofit organization, The Joint Commission is the nation’s oldest and largest standards-setting and accrediting body in health care. Learn more about The Joint Commission at



  • Hospital
  • Behavioral Health Care