Expert says hospitals need to reconsider resource allocation

AN EXPERT says hospitals need to reconsider resource allocations following a study's finding that "unsuccessful" suicide risk assessments of mental health patients may be costing lives.

Research led by UNSW Australia's School of Psychiatry academic Matthew Large found common practitioner tools were not successful in predicting suicides.

The study investigated the odds of suicide in high-risk and low-risk patients and the actual suicide rates in these two groups.

They found there was no reliable method for assessing suicide risk.

They found half of all suicides occurred in lower-risk groups, and 95% of high-risk patients did not commit suicide.

Dr Large said this pointed to a need for a more "patient-focused approach" to crisis mental health care.

"Resources are still being allocated on the basis of suicide risk," he said.

"If a patient presents with a suicide crisis they should be thoroughly assessed, without categorisation."

Lifeline can be contacted on 131 144.