Submit Manuscript  

Article Details

“Medical Clearance” of Psychiatric Patients in the Emergency Department

[ Vol. 9 , Issue. 2 ]


Genevieve Santillanes, Edore Onigu-Otite, Veronica Tucci and Nidal Moukaddam*   Pages 159 - 165 ( 7 )


Background & Aims: The past few years have seen an increase in the number of children and adolescents presenting to emergency departments with mental health complaints, including, but not limited to, depression, suicidality, and substance use-related conditions. This places many demands on the emergency physicians ranging from evaluating medical stability (also known as medical clearance) to arranging for psychiatric are, be it inpatient or outpatient. The goals of this article are to describe the current landscape of emergency care for the pediatric patient presenting with mental health issues and to highlight gaps in the current system.

Methods: We review the literature on the epidemiology of mental health emergency visits and guidelines for the medical clearance of pediatric and adolescent patients.

Results: The needs of young patients with mental health difficulties exceed the resources available in emergency care. Linkage to outpatient care is often inadequate and may be reinforcing and perpetuating the current mental health crisis witnessed country-wide in the US. Guidelines are lacking to standardize care in the ED, but there is a consensus that extensive routine laboratory testing is unnecessary.

Conclusion: Evaluation of physical stability, known as medical clearance, is a process best customized to every patient’s individual needs. However, requirements of admitting psychiatric inpatient facilities may conflict with recommendations of ancillary testing.


Medical clearance, psychiatric patients, depression, suicidality, epidemiology, guidelines.


University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas, HCA GME West Florida Consortium, Florida, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas

Read Full-Text article