Emergency department visits for suicidality in three hospitals

Barbara L Drew, Susan L Jones, Stephen W Meldon, Joseph D Varley
Archives of Psychiatric Nursing 2006, 20 (3): 117-25
The purposes of this study were to describe suicidal persons who come to the emergency department (ED) and to examine the relationship between clinical and health service characteristics and decisions regarding post-ED care. Data were collected from three hospital EDs by means of a retrospective review of records. During the 1-month study period, 163 ED visits were for suicidal ideation (f = 110) or behavior (f = 53). The mean age of the patients was 36.5 years (range = 5-87 years); 51% were female patients. Clinical decisions about post-ED care tended to be cautious, regardless of a patient's level of suicidality, with 71% of patients either transferred for psychiatric evaluation or admitted to the psychiatric unit. Emergency department staff tended to be slightly more conservative than mental health professionals, but the difference in their decisions about disposition was not significant.

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