Severn NHS Trust has recently commissioned a psychiatric intensive care unit (PICU) which became operational on 18 July 1994. Although the number of PICUs is increasing and their services are greatly valued, they are often fraught with problems. A model for the development of PICU services is described. It includes admission criteria, overall clinical organisation of the PICU, discharge criteria and a discussion. The model described is based on the hypothesis that the primary role of the PICU is to deal with clinical nursing problems rather than medical problems. The discussion points out some of the instrumental components necessary for the successful development of PICU services.
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