The Importance of Routine Environmental Risk Evaluation

Environmental risks can pose significant vulnerabilities to your patients, visitors and staff members.  Specifically, in patient care locations where suicidal and potentially violent patients may be treated, it is critical that the environment is free from potential risks that the patient may use to harm themselves or others.  Recently, we surveyed a location that had started using a provider office to interview and assess newly admitted patients to their behavioral health unit.  This space was not previously used for patient care.  However, upon survey a number of potential risks were identified including unlocked electrical panels, multiple ligature risks, furniture that could be picked up and thrown, ceiling with dropped panels and office supplies that could be dangerous.  Further discussion with the leadership team indicated that this room was not implemented for patient care use until after the most recent ligature risk assessment.  There also had been no ligature risk assessment conducted with the change to identify any new risks.

With any patient care process changes or changes to the structure or use of the facility, there should be a reassessment for the presence of risks that may affect the safety of your patients (including those who may be suicidal or potentially violent).  Ensure your risk assessments are kept up to date to reflect the changes that occur to ensure you maintain a safe environment.  Many organizations have set times on their calendar when they conduct environmental risk assessments.  What process do you have in place to update these assessments with changes that could present new risks?


Please contact us for questions or more information at  704-573-4535 or

Courtemanche & Associates specializes in Healthcare Accreditation and Regulatory Compliance Consulting Services. With over 30 years of being in business and 100+ years of healthcare experience amongst our consulting team, we are ready to assist with your accreditation and regulatory compliance needs.

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