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Executive Summary: Evaluation and Management of Children With Acute Mental Health or Behavioral Problems. Part II: Recognition of Clinically Challenging Mental Health Related Conditions Presenting With Medical or Uncertain Symptoms.

  • Author(s): Chun, Thomas H;
  • Mace, Sharon E;
  • Katz, Emily R;
  • et al.

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The number of children and adolescents seen in emergency departments (EDs) and primary care settings for mental health problems has skyrocketed in recent years, with up to 23% of patients in both settings having diagnosable mental health conditions. 1 -4 Even when a mental health problem is not the focus of an ED or primary care visit, mental health conditions, both known and occult, may challenge the treating clinician and complicate the patient's care.4 Although the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has published a policy statement on mental health competencies and a Mental Health Toolkit for pediatric primary care providers, no such guidelines or resources exist for clinicians who care for pediatric mental health emergencies. 5, 6 Many ED and primary care physicians report paucity of training and lack of confidence in caring for pediatric psychiatry patients. The 2 clinical reports support the 2006 joint policy statement of the AAP and the American College of Emergency Physicians on pediatric mental health emergencies, 7 with the goal of addressing the knowledge gaps in this area. Although written primarily from the perspective of ED clinicians, it is intended for all clinicians who care for children and adolescents with acute mental health and behavioral problems. They are organized around the common clinical challenges pediatric caregivers face, both when a child or adolescent presents with a psychiatric chief complaint or emergency (part I) and when a mental health condition may be an unclear or complicating factor in a non-mental health ED presentation (part II). Part I of the clinical reports includes discussions of Medical Clearance of Pediatric Psychiatric Patients, Suicide and Suicidal Ideation, Restraint of the Agitated Patient Including Verbal, Chemical, and Physical Restraint, and Coordination of Care With the Medical Home, and it can be accessed online at 2016-1570. This executive summary is an overview of part II of the clinical reports. Full text of the following topics can be accessed online at 2016-1573.

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