RISKALERT INCIDENT REPORT # 574 – Suicide in the Hospital Bathroom
August 6, 2014
Former Nurse Commits Suicide, Fires A Single Shot to the Head, Locked in a Public Restroom at Valley View Hospital, Glenwood Springs, Colorado.
A hospital staff member reported Eric Knurr dead in a bathroom stall a round 11:30 a.m. Monday, morning, August 4, after maintenance had to be called to unlock the door to the men’s restroom off the emergency department. The former male nurse had been formally admonished by state regulators for brushing a patient’s teeth until they bled, and also slapping the patient, who was in restraints at the time of the incident in 2005. He had applied for a job at Valley View Hospital in 2012, but was not hired. In similar incidents:
- In January, 2014, a man locked himself in the hospital bathroom at Cherokee Medical Center in Iowa, and committed suicide.
- In August, 2013, 62-year-old man committed suicide in a public bathroom at the Veterans Affairs hospital campus at Fort Harrison, Montana, after locking the bathroom door and killing himself with a single shot.
- In August, 2012, a similar incident happened at an Oklahoma hospital when a Oklahoma State University employee committed suicide in a public restroom off the emergency room.
(1.) Hospital staff should IMMEDIATELY report any locked bathroom door in a public restroom. In several of the incidents, housekeeping “didn’t want to bother security” when they found the bathroom door locked, so they waited another two hours before reporting the problem, and by then it was too late.
(2.) Not having any form of metal detection allows people to bring guns into hospitals, lock themselves in bathroom, and commit suicide. Metal detectors or wand detectors can prevent a tragedy.
CHECK OUT: In December, 2010, The Joint Commission Issued a Sentinel Event Alert on Suicide Risk Outside Psych Units in Hospitals, including medical units, surgical units, and emergency departments. (http://www.jointcommission.org/assets/1/18/SEA_46.pdf).
“It is noteworthy that many patients who kill themselves in general hospital inpatient units do not have a psychiatric history or a history of suicide attempt – they are “unknown at risk” for suicide. Compared to the psychiatric hospital and unit, the general hospital setting also presents more access to items that can be used to attempt suicide – items that are either already in or may be brought into the facility – and more opportunities for the patient to be alone to attempt or re-attempt suicide.
“This Alert presents strategies that can be used and suggested actions that can be taken by general hospitals to help better prepare their staffs and their facilities for suicidal patients and to care for both their physical and mental needs. Suicide has ranked in the top five most frequently reported events to The Joint Commission since 1995. The Sentinel Event Database includes 827 reports of inpatient suicides. Of these events, 14.25 percent occurred in the non-behavioral health units of general hospitals (e.g., medical or surgical units, ICU, oncology, telemetry), 8.02 percent occurred in the emergency department of general hospitals and 2.45 percent occurred in other non-psychiatric settings.”
Stay Alert and Encourage Hospital Employee Awareness!
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