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J Telemed Telecare. 2011;17(6):332-5. doi: 10.1258/jtt.2011.101207. Epub 2011 Aug 15.

Managing suicidality in home-based telehealth.

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Mental Health Service, Ralph H Johnson VAMC, 109 Bee Street, Charleston, SC 29401, USA.


We describe the case of a US veteran from the war in Afghanistan with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The patient was undergoing treatment at home via telehealth as part of a research trial. In week six, he presented with severe suicidal ideation and required emergency hospitalization. Through a series of immediate enhanced communications (i.e. by videoconference) between the patient, patient's family, treatment team and local resources, the patient's symptoms were assessed to identify suicidality and an intervention was successfully carried out, involving the development of a safety plan and eventual transportation to an inpatient unit at the local Veterans Administration Medical Center, where he was hospitalized for three days. This demonstrates the value of telehealth in identifying and treating severe psychiatric symptoms in addition to supporting the safety of these procedures to address suicidality.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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