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American Association for Emergency Psychiatry Task Force on Medical Clearance of Adults Part I: Introduction, Review and Evidence-Based Guidelines.

INTRODUCTION: In the United States, the number of patients presenting to the emergency department (ED) for a mental health concern is significant and expected to grow. The breadth of the medical evaluation of these patients is controversial. Attempts have been made to establish a standard evaluation for these patients, but to date no nationally accepted standards exist. A task force of the American Association of Emergency Psychiatry, consisting of physicians from emergency medicine and psychiatry, and a psychologist was convened to form consensus recommendations on the medical evaluation of psychiatric patients presenting to EDs.

METHODS: The task force reviewed existing literature on the topic of medical evaluation of psychiatric patients in the ED (Part I) and then combined this with expert consensus (Part II).

RESULTS: In Part I, we discuss terminological issues and existing evidence on medical exams and laboratory studies of psychiatric patients in the ED.

CONCLUSION: Emergency physicians should work cooperatively with psychiatric receiving facilities to decrease unnecessary testing while increasing the quality of medical screening exams for psychiatric patients who present to EDs.

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