Mental Health Blog

When and how to send kids to the emergency room

“The first thing I would say to any clinician is that it’s never wrong to send a child to the emergency room,” said Amy Dryer, MD, pediatrician and REACH faculty member.

Having spent 10 years in a hospital emergency department, Dr. Dryer is intimately familiar with the criteria ER physicians use to decide to admit psychiatric patients: a medical condition, suicidal ideation with a lethal plan, homicidal ideation, or active psychosis.

However, she emphasized that your decision to refer to the ER doesn’t hinge on whether the patient is likely to be admitted. “If what they’re telling you makes you uncomfortable,” she said, “go ahead and refer them.”


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