A fatality inquiry heard Eugene Cormier had already jumped off the High Level Bridge when police were contacted in January 2011.
The 25-year-old man had been admitted to Alberta Hospital for paranoid schizophrenia and substance abuse.
He had been granted a 15-minute pass to walk around the hospital's grounds but didn't return.
Staff searched the area, then couldn't find a doctor to sign a form required before contacting police.
A judge says the hospital now allows a nurse to sign the form, but he hopes the policy change will be formalized and enforced.
Provincial court Judge James Wheatley wrote in a report released Thursday that protocol should be reviewed on a constant basis and communicated to all levels of staff.
He also said the hospital needs to keep more electronic records. Staff were unable to find a paper sign-out sheet when Cormier left for his break, so it wasn't recorded.
Wheatley said electronic systems are already in place in many hospitals.
"Such a system would ensure records would not be lost and would also facilitate a review of records by all staff on a timely basis, especially in respect of observation levels and off-site privileges," he wrote.
"Alarm functions can be placed into such an electronic record- keeping system to ensure enforcement of absence off-site visiting or other privileges."
Police and fire crews searched for Cormier's body in the North Saskatchewan River after a man was spotted jumping off the bridge. Because the water was still partially covered in ice and snow, his body wasn't recovered until three months later.