The Utility of Laboratory Screening in Medically Ill Patients with Psychiatric Symptoms
The presence of psychiatric illness in general hospital medical inpatients can complicate a patient's clinical course. Currently, there is no standard laboratory work-up recommended for this patient population. To begin to assess the utility of a routine panel of tests, the results of serum vitamin B12 (cobalamin) levels, folate levels, thyroid stimulating hormone levels, and syphilis serology of 349 patients were reviewed. These patients had been admitted to the hospital for nonpsychiatric conditions but either had preexisting psychiatric disturbances or developed a mood spectrum disorder or cognitive spectrum disorder during their hospitalization. The incidence of vitamin B12 and folate deficiencies in these patients was found to be higher than has been reported for the general population. Thus, routine screening for these vitamin deficiencies may be indicated because of their prevalence in this patient population.
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