Ligatures and/or Suicide Risk Reduction - Emergency Department - Ligature-resistant Requirements

Do emergency departments need to be ligature resistant ?

Any examples are for illustrative purposes only.

No. Emergency departments do not need to meet the same standards as an inpatient psychiatric unit to be a ligature-resistant environment. Patients in emergency departments often require equipment to monitor and treat their medical conditions, so it is impossible to make their environment truly ligature resistant. However, organizations must implement safeguards to keep patients with active suicidality safe during the course of treatment in that setting (see also the FAQ titled "Do we have to assess every patient for suicide risk who comes into the emergency department ?). In designing the emergency department environment, the organization must first consider state rules and regulations (typically the state health department).  Spaces/rooms designated ONLY for the treatment of patients with behavioral health conditions within an emergency department must meet the ligature-resistant requirements. 

This FAQ was also published in the Perspectives® Newsletter, July 2018, Volume 38, Issue 7 - The Official Newsletter of The Joint Commission.

Last updated on August 24, 2020
Manual: Behavioral Health
Chapter: National Patient Safety Goals NPSG

If no, please comment on how we could improve this response.

If you have additional standards-related questions regarding this topic, please use the Standards Online Submission Form