National Suicide Prevention Award Given for Lifesaving Work in Emergency Departments

NEW YORK (April 5, 2021) –To recognize leaders in suicide prevention, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) and the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) will honor the developers of Emergency Psychiatric Intervention (EPI), a new toolkit of best practices for patients with psychiatric emergencies. The EPI team will be awarded the Innovation in Acute Care Suicide Prevention Award on April 8 during a webinar hosted by AFSP and ACEP.

“When we began work on Project 2025, our bold goal to reduce the national suicide rate 20% by 2025, we envisioned creative new solutions like this new toolkit developed by the team at Vituity. This team has found a way to better meet the behavioral health needs of patients,” said CEO Robert Gebbia of AFSP. “And, what makes the tool special is how simple it is to implement, and the potential time and cost savings for care and treatment. I look forward to seeing how this program is expanded and taken to scale around the country.”

EPI was developed by a team of experts on the frontlines of emergency medicine and acute psychiatry with Vituity, a physician-owned-and-led multi-specialty partnership. The toolkit helps prepare emergency physicians and staff to quickly evaluate and treat low, moderate, and high-risk patients who may be experiencing a mental health emergency or showing signs of suicidal thoughts or behaviors. EPI provides guidance for care teams in areas from initial diagnosis and treatment to discharge protocols, which could include outpatient referrals, prescription refills, or other important information.

Suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in the United States and the stress and uncertainty from the pandemic has increased the number of mental health emergencies in many communities.

“We are pleased to recognize solutions that enhance treatment for mental health emergencies,” said Mark Rosenberg, DO, MBA, FACEP, president of ACEP. “The emergency department is, for many people, the first or sometimes the only option for care. Empowering emergency care teams to better address mental health issues is an effort that can improve timely access to necessary services and save lives.”

After several months of using the new tool, average wait times for lower-risk patients were cut by 40%, and patients who were assessed by teams who had rolled out the EPI bundle had yet to revisit the hospital. Over the course of 6-month EPI Collaboratives, several of the EDs realized:

  • A 25% or more decrease in length of stay for both low and moderate acuity behavioral health patients, representing more timely assessments, interventions and dispositions to the least restrictive environment of care
  • Use of restraints was reduced by over 50%
  • For patients needing medication, starting medications within one hour increased by almost 200%
  • Staff reported a 34% increase in their feelings of safety when taking care of psychiatric patients

Registration is open for the "The Saving Lives in Emergency Departments Awards Ceremony" webinar featuring the ACEP and AFSP award winners presenting their game-changing work in the area of suicide prevention. Join this free webinar and learn more about innovative work being done in the field: https://webapps.acep.org/meetingsv1/Registration.aspx?mcode=AVS-4821.

The American College of Emergency Physicians is the national medical society representing emergency medicine. Through continuing education, research, public education and advocacy, ACEP advances emergency care on behalf of its 40,000 emergency physician members, and the more than 150 million Americans they treat on an annual basis. For more information, visit www.acep.org and www.emergencyphysicians.org.

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention is dedicated to saving lives and bringing hope to those affected by suicide. AFSP creates a culture that’s smart about mental health through education and community programs, develops suicide prevention through research and advocacy, and provides support for those affected by suicide. Led by CEO Robert Gebbia and headquartered in New York, and with a public policy office in Washington, D.C., AFSP has local chapters in all 50 states with programs and events nationwide. Learn more about AFSP in its latest Annual Report, and join the conversation on suicide prevention by following AFSP on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.

More about Project 2025 - Using a dynamic systems model approach based on what the evidence tells us about suicide, AFSP has determined a series of actions and critical areas to help reach this unprecedented goal. With this approach, the organization will reach across all demographic and sociological groups to have the greatest impact for suicide prevention, and the potential to save thousands of lives by the year 2025. From the model built for Project 2025, AFSP shares examples of how many lives could be saved at a national level if scaled up and made strategic investments, while applying the collective resources necessary to support these prevention areas. The model has revealed four areas for critical action including: (1) firearms and suicide prevention, (2) healthcare systems, (3) emergency departments, and (4) corrections system. 

Contacts:
American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, Alexis O’Brien, aobrien@afsp.org
American College of Emergency Physicians, Steve Arnoff, sarnoff@acep.org

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