Access to Outpatient Pediatric Mental Health Care after Emergency Department Discharge

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1 Scopus citations


Objectives: Pediatric mental health presentations to emergency departments (EDs) have shown dramatic increases nationally. This study aimed to identify the ability of patients discharged with mental health from the ED to establish outpatient care. Methods: This was a cross-sectional study of all mental health patients aged 7 to 19 years who were seen by a child psychiatry consult team in a tertiary care pediatric ED from September 2016 to January 2017. Patients were contacted by phone at least 6 months after discharge. Data obtained included time to follow-up, reasons for delayed follow-up, type of provider seen, and frequency of outpatient visits. Results: Two hundred twenty-eight charts were reviewed and 51 were successfully interviewed. The median age was 14 years and 61% were female. Most patients (61%) reported seeing a psychiatrist or therapist, whereas 19% reported a primary care provider and 19% reporting “other.” The majority were able to establish care within 1 month (73%), whereas 9% reported never obtaining outpatient follow-up. Most patients (58%) were able to be seen more than once per month. The most common reason for delayed follow-up was provider availability. Conclusions: This study found that a large number of patients were able to be seen within 1 month of discharge for mental health care. However, almost 10% of patients never established outpatient care, which is concerning and is an area needing further research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E1388-E1391
JournalPediatric emergency care
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Follow-up
  • Mental health
  • Suicidality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Emergency Medicine


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