We aimed to estimate the proportion of UK emergency departments with a psychiatric assessment room and to determine whether such rooms met criteria for conducting high-risk assessments. Liaison psychiatry services were asked whether their hospital had such a room, whether it met the criteria and whether respondents judged it to be sufficiently safe and private.
Of the 60 emergency departments included in the survey, 23% had a psychiatric assessment room that met all the safety criteria and was judged to be safe and private. Barriers to the establishment of an appropriate facility included it being a low priority for hospital management, a room being used for other purposes, and balancing safety requirements with the creation of a calming environment.
Mental illness is a common reason for presentation to emergency departments. Despite national recommendations, this survey indicates that many departments lack a sufficiently safe and private assessment room, which compromises the safety and privacy of patient care.
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