Episode 28 - Depressed and Suicidal Patients in the Emergency Department: An Evidence-Based Approach - EMplify by EB Medicine
Jeff: Welcome back to EMplify, the podcast corollary to EB Medicine’s Emergency Medicine Practice. I’m Jeff Nusbaum, and I’m back with my co-host, Nachi Gupta. This month, we’re moving into uncharted territories for the podcast… we’re talking psychiatry
Nachi: Specifically, we’ll be discussing Depressed and Suicidal Patients in the emergency department (/topics.php?paction=showTopic&topic_id=601&ad=standard).
Jeff: As a quick survey of our audience before we begin, how many of you routinely encounter co-morbid psychiatric conditions in your ED patients, especially depression?
Nachi: That would certainly be all of our listeners!
Jeff: And how many of you struggle to admit or transfer patients for a formal psychiatric eval?
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Nachi: Again, just about all of our listeners I’m sure!
Jeff: And finally, how many of you wish there was a clearly outlined evidence-based approach to managing such patients to improve care and outcomes?
Nachi: That would certainly be helpful. So now that we are all in agreement with just how necessary this episode is, let’s dive in.
Jeff: This month’s issue was authored by Dr. Bernard Chang, Katherine Tezanos, Ilana Gratch and Dr. Christine Cha, who are all at Columbia University.
Nachi: In addition, it was peer reviewed by Dr. Nicholas Schwartz of Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York and Dr. Scott Zeller of the university of California-Riverside.
Jeff: Quite the team, from a variety of backgrounds.
Nachi: And just to put this topic into perspective - annually, there are more than 12 million ED visits for substance abuse and mental health crises. This represents nearly 12.5% of all ED visits. Of note, among these visits, nearly 650,000 individuals are evaluated for suicide attempt.
Jeff: Looking more in depth, of the mental health complaints we see daily, mood disorders are the most common, representing 43%, followed by anxiety disorders, 26%, and then alcohol related conditions at 23%
Nachi: And as is often the case, these numbers are likely underestimates, as many psychiatric complaints, especially depression, often go unnoticed by the patients and providers alike. In one study of patients who presented with unexplained chest and somatic complaints, 23% met the criteria for a major depressive episode.
Jeff: Sad, but terrifying, though I suppose it all makes this issue so much more valuable.
Nachi: Before we get to the evidence and an evidence-based approach, let’s start with some definitions.
Jeff: Certainly a good place to start, but let me preface this with an important point - arriving at a specific psychiatric diagnosis in the ED is likely neither feasible nor realistic due to the obvious limitations, most namely, time - instead, you should focus on assessing and collecting information on the presenting symptoms and taking a comprehensive psychiatric and medical history.
Nachi: According to DSM-5, to diagnose a major depressive disorder you must have 5 or more of the following: depressed mood, decreased interest or pleasure in most activities,