Send to:

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Am J Emerg Med. 2000 Jul;18(4):390-3.

Unrecognized medical emergencies admitted to psychiatric units.

Author information

  • 1G.V. (Sonny) Montgomery VA Medical Center and the University of Mississippi School of Medicine, Jackson, USA.


Alteration of mental status secondary to medical illness may occasionally be incorrectly attributed to a psychiatric problem. The cases of 64 patients with unrecognized medical emergencies inappropriately admitted to psychiatric units from emergency departments were reviewed to determine the cause of the misdiagnoses. Medical diagnoses most often missed included severe intoxication with alcohol or other illicit substance (34.4%), drug or alcohol withdrawal or delirium tremens (12.5%), and prescription drug overdose (12.5%). In none of the cases (0%) was an appropriate mental status examination performed. Other common causes of misdiagnosis included inadequate physical examination (43.8%), failure to obtain indicated laboratory studies (34.4%), and failure to obtain available history (34.4%). A systematic approach is required for patients with altered mental status, including those with psychiatric presentations.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for Elsevier Science
    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk