Assessment of the Acute Psychiatric Patient in the Emergency Department: Legal Cases and Caveats
MADIGAN ARMY MEDICAL CENTER JOINT BASE LEWIS MCCHORD WA
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Assessment of the acute psychiatric emergency is challenging and fraught with error. This paper, using legal cases, will discuss the assessment of new onset psychiatric illness, exacerbation of chronic psychiatric disease, and the suicidal patient. We will share diagnostic caveats, medical clearance, and suicide assessment tools. The authors, who have significant medical legal experience, selectively chose illustrative legal cases to discuss caveats of assessment of acute psychiatric emergencies. We selected representative cases after reviewing legal journals and publications. Cases involving restraint and sedation were excluded as they were covered in a prior manuscript. Psychosis is a relatively common syndrome affecting 3 to 5 of the population at some point in life. Encountering undiagnosed psychiatric conditions, such as psychosis or bipolar disorder, is commonplace for the emergency physician EP. The following case illustrates the challenge and importance of the assessment of new onset psychiatric disorders.
- Sociology and Law
- Medicine and Medical Research