We examined the impact of implementing a new Acute Mental Health Emergency Assessment Protocol (AMHEAP) on joint psychiatric assessments out of hours within Forth Valley, Scotland, over the course of 4 calendar months. The protocol states that assessments should be carried out by a junior doctor and a registered, qualified mental health nurse. The impact measures were taken as admission rates and experience of the doctor in training.
In the 4 months that were examined (1 June–30 September 2011), 79.5% of out-of-hours emergency assessments were performed jointly. Admission rates were significantly decreased (P<0.001) compared with a similar period in 2008, before the AMHEAP protocol was developed. Most junior doctors valued the experience of joint assessment.
Joint assessment can enhance patient experience, reduce hospital admission, and provide a learning opportunity for junior doctors in emergency psychiatric assessments. However, it represents a move away from the doctor as sole decision maker.
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