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Psychiatric Services

A variety of psychiatric conditions, ranging from general anxiety to dementia-related behavior problems, may require short-term hospitalization. Many general hospitals are able to provide this service.

Emergency Services
If you have concerns that your loved one is at risk of harming him or herself or others, and he or she is refusing to seek diagnosis or treatment, you can petition for emergency evaluation through the district court. If the judge grants the emergency petition, the police will escort the individual to the hospital emergency room for an emergency evaluation. After arriving at the emergency room, the individual will be evaluated by two physicians to determine if he or she meets the criteria for a psychiatric admission. The determination can result in an involuntary admission, a voluntary admission or a referral for out-patient care.

In-Patient Services
Some hospitals have designated psychiatric units within the general hospital. An individual must meet the criteria for an in-patient admission, and must be medically stable before being admitted to the psychiatric unit. The admission may be voluntary or involuntary. Some hospitals provide specialized psychiatric service to geriatric patients. If an individual is deemed to require long-term in-patient care (more than 30 days), transfer to a specialty hospital will usually be arranged.

Out-Patient Services
Most psychiatric services are provided on an out-patient basis. In an out-patient psychiatric program, an individual can expect to be treated by a psychiatric nurse, social worker, psychologist or psychiatrist. Treatment can be provided to the individual, to the family or to the individual and family. This treatment may be provided in individual and/or group therapy sessions.

Intensive case management may be offered to individuals with chronic psychiatric disorders. A case manager can assist the individual in obtaining community services and monitor the individual's continued involvement in treatment.

Consultation Services
Psychiatric services are available to patients throughout the hospital. If the attending physician has concerns about a patient's cognitive functioning (mental condition) or behavior, he or she may request that a psychiatrist evaluate the patient. The psychiatrist, or mental health specialist will complete an assessment and, if appropriate, make suggestions for a plan of care.