Year: 2015 Source: Western Journal of Emergency Medicine.(2014).15(3):312Ð317.doi:10.5811/westjem.2013.8.18378 SIEC No: 20150465

Assessment of the acute psychiatric emergency is challenging and fraught with error. This paper, using legal cases, will discuss the assessment of new onset psychiatric illness, exacerbation of chronic psychiatric disease, and the suicidal patient. We will share diagnostic caveats, medical clearance, and suicide assessment tools. The authors, who have significant medical legal experience, selectively chose illustrative legal cases to discuss caveats of assessment of acute psychiatric emergencies. We selected representative cases after reviewing legal journals and publications. Cases involving restraint and sedation were excluded as they were covered in a prior manuscript.