Legal Issues in Emergency Department Discharge of Psychiatric Patients

Susan Stefan, J.D.

This presentation attempts to dispel prevalent mythology that most Emergency Department liability associated with psychiatric patients stems from inappropriate discharge. This mythology leads to overadmission to inpatient psychiatric units from the emergency department, which is both expensive and potentially emotionally damaging to involuntary patients. The presentation looks at various sources of ED liability in cases involving psychiatric patients and presents a number of case examples.