TJC Clarifies Height Requirements in Relation to Ligature and Suicide Risk Reduction

PUBLISHED: Jul 10, 2019
Relevant to: Ambulatory Care, Behavioral Health, Critical Access Hospitals, Hospitals

The Joint Commission (TJC) has issued a Frequently Asked Question (FAQ) addressing height requirements in relation to ligature and suicide risk reduction in inpatient psychiatric units. According to TJC, “There is no height requirement for a ligature risk.”

According to TJC, height is not a definitive factor in suicide from asphyxiation. There are reports of various suicides and suicide attempts where individuals have used items low to the ground (e.g., low pipes) to achieve asphyxiation. According to TJC,

“…low-to-the-ground exposed piping (such as piping near toilets or under the sink, for example) or any other apparatus protruding from the wall or another structure is still considered a ligature risk if the patient is able to create a sustainable point of attachment with another material in order to inflict self-harm or cause loss of life.”

TJC’s FAQ makes clear that low to the ground structures need to be considered when assessing and evaluating the environment for ligature risks.

Included with today’s notice is an example policy addressing risk assessment for ligature/ligature anchor points.

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