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The significance of nonurgent psychiatric emergencies in an ED: a retrospective study.

BMC Emergency Medicine 2023 November 9
BACKGROUND: In emergency departments, patients with mental health conditions are a major concern and make up the third or fourth of the most common diagnosis seen during all consultations. Over the past two decades, there has been a noticeable rise in the number of cases, particularly due to an increase in nonurgent visits for somatic medical issues. The significance of nonurgent visits for psychiatric patients is yet to be determined. This study aims to uncover the significance and identify the characteristics of this group.

METHODS: A retrospective analysis of psychiatric emergency visits at an interdisciplinary emergency department of a German general hospital in 2015 was conducted. For this purpose, patient records were reviewed and evaluated. An analysis was conducted based on the German definition of psychiatric emergencies according to the German guidelines for emergency psychiatry.

RESULTS: A total of 21,124 emergency patients visited the evaluated Emergency Department. Of this number, 1,735 psychiatric patient records were evaluated, representing 8.21% of the total population. Nearly 30% of these patients did not meet any emergency criteria according to German guidelines. Significant differences were observed between previously treated patients and those presenting for the first time.

CONCLUSIONS: The high proportion of nonurgent psychiatric patients in the total volume of psychiatric emergency contacts indicates a possible control and information deficit within the emergency system. Just as prior research has emphasized the importance of investigating nonurgent somatic medical visits, it is equally imperative to delve into studies centered around psychiatric nonurgent presentations.

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