General Hospital Psychiatric Emergency Services
Written more than a decade ago, this editorial comment still captures the prevailing mood surrounding the astounding growth in utilization of psychiatric emergency services in general hospitals. If the expected rate of increase of total emergency room (ER) visits continues at 11% per year, then the patient volume will double every year.2–4 These trends cannot be accounted for by the increase in population and far exceed the growth in inpatient or outpatient facilities.
From humble origins in the occasional consultations provided by general hospital psychiatric departments for problems encountered in hospital wards, “acute psychiatric services,” “walk-in clinics”—call them what you will—have mushroomed in the past decade partly as a response to a growing need for emergency care and partly under the stimulus of the community movement. At the same time, the case load of these facilities has grown at a phenomenal pace … and those responsible for running psychiatric units have sometimes felt as if they were fighting the battle of the bulge as they have poured staff and residents into the breach to stem the onslaught.1
KeywordsGeneral Hospital Emergency Service Psychiatric Service Crisis Intervention Psychiatric Emergency
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