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The mental status examination in emergency practice.

A systematic approach to assessing mental status in the emergency department is key to identifying alterations in mental status and to directing diagnostic testing and management. After initial stabilization of the patient, it is critical to assess a patient's alertness, attention, and cognition, and perform a brief psychiatric assessment to fully evaluate a patient with mental status changes. This article offers an approach to allow better management of a patient with altered mental status.

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