Drug Monitoring in the Psychiatric Patient

As part of the medical clearance criteria for psychiatric patients arriving to the Emergency Department, it has been a long standing order to obtain urine drug screens and blood alcohol levels. Where these tests are indicative of the presence of mood altering substances, they represent am infinitesimally small amount of substances that can affect a person’s mood, affect and higher functioning.
As many of these patients can be described as disingenuous at best, and that poly-substance and alcohol abuse are not criteria for refusal of admittance, the use of these tests in the Emergency Department could be considered a needless use of resources. Since the data from these tests are relevant to the treatment regimen instituted by the psychiatric team, it may be more appropriate to complete these tests at the psychiatric facility.
This would decrease the time the patient stays in the Emergency Department and expedite earlier intervention of psychiatric treatment modalities.

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