Psychiatric emergencies constitute a large proportion of psychiatric referrals, with the response to this need therefore of great importance. The impact of the introduction of a telephone triage system on such factors as speed of response, assessment site, outcome and the personnel performing the assessment is examined within the context of closing of a 24-hour open access emergency system. Information was gathered from all emergency referrals, with 80 subjects randomly chosen and studied in depth.
The triage system afforded a greater flexibility of response, and the involvement of more experienced clinicians. It did not reduce the overall referral or admission rates.
Triage was found to be an effective method of introducing flexibility of response to emergency referrals while encouraging continuity of patient care.
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