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Tijdschrift voor Psychiatrie 48 (2006) 3, 175 - 183

New research

Somatic investigation of psychiatric patients newly admitted to Flemish general psychiatric hospitals

G. Neirinck, M. Eneman, P. De Cort

background In Flanders there is as yet very little consensus concerning the extent and content of somatic investigations available to and conducted on patients newly admitted to psychiatric hospitals.
aim To obtain an overview of the numbers and specialisms of medical-somatic staff at Flemish general psychiatric hospitals, the equipment available and the somatic routine examinations regularly requested.
method We compiled a questionnaire about current hospital policy concerning the diagnosis of physical illnesses in newly admitted patients and the availability of diagnostic facilities. We submitted the questionnaires to 20 Flemish psychiatrist hospitals.
results The commonest type of medical equipment available at these psychiatric hospitals consisted of ecg, X-ray and ultrasonic devices. The routine examinations that were requested most frequently were blood and urine tests, ecg's, clinical examinations, and X-rays of the thorax. The numbers and specialisms of somatic doctors at these hospitals vary from one hospital to the next. Sometimes a hospital does not have any somatic doctors at all.
conclusion The general psychiatric hospitals in Flanders do not have a uniform policy concerning somatic examinations on newly admitted patients. The equipment and the numbers and specialisms of the medical-somatic staff vary from one hospital to another. It seems reasonable that extra investigations such as blood tests, ecg's and thorax X-rays should be conducted when case histories and clinical examinations indicate that such testing may be useful.

keywords patient admission, preadmission physical examination, psychiatry, routine diagnostic tests