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Tijdschrift voor Psychiatrie 59 (2017) 7, 396 - 405

New research

Evaluation of referral and intervention patterns at the psychiatric emergency service, Utrecht 2009-2015

M.H. Hoek, A.W. Braam

background Emergency psychiatric care in the Netherlands is provided mainly by community mental health services. Although these emergency services vary in their approach per region, they show many similarities: they tend to receive referrals from the same type of agencies and they practice similar techniques of crisis management.
aim To identify some of the patterns that appear in the type of psychiatric problems encountered, the type of referral agencies involved and in the intervention strategies practiced by the psychiatric emergency service in Utrecht.
method We studied the medical records of 938 crisis assessments compiled during five measurement periods between 2009 and 2015. From all these crisis assessments we selected one sample relating to patients coming only from the city of Utrecht – ‘model city Utrecht’ - and a second sample consisting only of patients referred either by hap (emergency primary care), the police or a general hospital. Then, by using cross-tabulation and a multinomial logistic regression analyses, we were able to identify associations between the type of referral agency, the type of referral problem and the type of intervention.
results Patients referred by the police were more often forcefully admitted (compulsory admission: 27%) than patients referred by general practitioners (6%); most of these patients were then treated as outpatients (83%). Another pattern that emerged, was that confused or aggressive patients were admitted to hospital more frequently than suicidal patients (26%, 29% and 8% respectively).
conclusion Our study and current trends in the clinical practice operated by the emergency psychiatric services reveal significant correlations between the type of referrals and the type of intervention. However, further research is needed in order to develop the ‘best practice’ for emergency psychiatric care in the future.

keywords acute ambulatory psychiatric care, acute psychiatry, psychiatric crisis, urgent psychiatry