The Effect of a Dedicated Psychiatric Team to Pediatric Emergency Mental Health Care

David C. Sheridan, John Sheridan, Kyle P. Johnson, Amber Laurie, Allyson Knapper, Rongwei Fu, Shannon Appy, Matthew L. Hansen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Background Pediatric emergency department (PED) visits among children and adolescents with acute mental health needs have increased over the past decade with long wait times in the PED awaiting disposition. Objective The objective of this study was to evaluate the effect of a new pediatric mental health liaison program with the hypothesis that this model reduces length of stay (LOS) and hospitalization rates among pediatric mental health patients. Methods This was a pre- and postintervention retrospective study of the year prior to (June 2012-June 2013) and the year after (October 2013-October 2014) implementation of a new PED psychiatric team. All patients aged 1-18 years with a mental health International Classification of Diseases-9th Revision code were included. Patients who did not receive a Psychiatry consult in the PED were excluded. Results There were 83 encounters in the year prior to and 129 encounters in the year after the implementation of the liaison program. There was an increase in the suicidality of mental health patients during this time. There was a significant decrease in mean PED LOS of 27% (95% confidence interval [CI] 0-46%; p = 0.05) from pre- to postintervention period. The decrease in the proportion of patients admitted/transferred to an inpatient psychiatric facility in the postintervention year was statistically significant (odds ratio 0.35; 95% CI 0.17-0.71; p < 0.01). Conclusions The use of a dedicated child psychiatrist and mental health social worker to the PED results in significantly decreased LOS and need for admission without any change in return visit rate. Larger, multicenter studies are needed to confirm these findings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)e121-e128
JournalJournal of Emergency Medicine
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2016


  • acute
  • child
  • emergency department
  • mental

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine


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