More docs should assess their patients for suicide risk


In the latest issue of Good Practice, the British Medical Defense Union’s journal for General Practitioners, there is an analysis of complaints made regarding the treatment of depression and anxiety. Overall, the GPs appear to be good at diagnosing and managing depression. However, the MDU found that there may be a greater risk of adverse events that lead to patients self-harming when their depression and their various medications are taken into account.

“It is encouraging to see that complaints from patients with depression and anxiety are rare in primary care, suggesting GPs are managing these common conditions successfully. Where problems do arise however, there is a significant potential for an adverse incident, including the small number o cases where patients harm themselves. Another common theme among the complaints we reviewed was concern that a patient had been prescribed antidepressants for a long period without review. It is important that practices have systems in place to review patients on long term medication,” stated Dr. Louise Dale, MDU medico-legal adviser.

To better serve patients and avoid potential problems, the MDU suggests that GPs regularly assess all depressive patients for suicide risk. Awareness of the current guidelines for treating depression, including non-medical interventions, would help serve patients better. Doctors must also ensure that patients fully understand the drugs they are being prescribed as well as the risks. In the case of long term medication use, doctors must create a system to review the efficacy of those drugs and the condition of the patients over time. Referrals for specialist treatment should be made where necessary.

Source: MedicalNewsToday, Good Practice


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