Emergency medicine physicians and psychiatric staff face a challenging job in risk stratifying patients presenting with suicide attempts to predict which patients need intensive care unit admission, hospital admission or can be discharged with psychiatry follow up.
This study aims to analyse patients who were admitted to the intensive care unit or regular ward for suicide attempt, and the methods they employed in a rural Australian base hospital.
We conducted a retrospective analysis of patients who presented with suicide attempts to the Rockhampton Base Hospital Emergency Department, Queensland Australia from 1 September 2007 to 31 August 2009. Multivariate logistic regression was undertaken to identify risk factors for ICU and regular ward admission, and predictors of suicide method.
There were 570 patients presenting with suicide attempts, 74 of which were repeat suicide attempts. There was a 10- fold increase in the odds of intensive care unit or ICU admission (CI 1.45-81.9, p=0.02) for patients who presented with drug overdose. Increased age (OR=1.02, 95 per cent CI 1.00-1.03, p=0.05), drug overdose (OR=2.69, 95 per cent CI 1.37-5.29, p=0.004), and previous suicide attempt (OR=1.53, 95 per cent CI 1.03-2.28, p=0.03) were significantly correlated with hospital admission. Male patients (OR=2.76, 95 per cent CI 1.43-5.30, p=0.002) and Aboriginal patients (OR=3.38, 95 per cent CI 1.42-8.05, p=0.006) were more likely to choose hanging as a suicide method.
We identified drug overdose as a strong predictor of ICU admission, while age, drug overdose and history of previous suicide attempts predict hospital admission. We recommend reviewing physician practices, especially safe medication, in suicide risk patients. Our study also highlights the need for continued close collaboration by acute care and community mental health providers for quality improvement.