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Assignment: Legal and Ethical Issues Related to Psychiatric Emergencies

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The diagnosis of psychiatric emergencies can include a wide range of problems—from serious drug reactions to abuse and suicidal ideation/behaviors. Regardless of care setting, the PMHNP must know how to address emergencies, coordinate care with other members of the health care team and law enforcement officials (when indicated), and effectively communicate with family members who are often overwhelmed in emergency situations. In their role, PMHNPs can ensure a smooth transition from emergency mental health care to follow-up care, and also bridge the physical–mental health divide in healthcare.

In this week’s Assignment, you explore legal and ethical issues surrounding psychiatric emergencies, and identify evidence-based suicide and violence risk assessments. 

To Prepare
  • Review this week’s Learning Resources and consider the insights they provide about psychiatric emergencies and the ethical and legal issues surrounding these events.
The Assignment

In 2–3 pages, address the following:

  • Explain your state laws for involuntary psychiatric holds for child and adult psychiatric emergencies. Include who can hold a patient and for how long, who can release the emergency hold, and who can pick up the patient after a hold is released.
  • Explain the differences among emergency hospitalization for evaluation/psychiatric hold, inpatient commitment, and outpatient commitment in your state.
  • Explain the difference between capacity and competency in mental health contexts.
  • Select one of the following topics, and explain one legal issue and one ethical issue related to this topic that may apply within the context of treating psychiatric emergencies: patient autonomy, EMTALA, confidentiality, HIPAA privacy rule, HIPAA security rule, protected information, legal gun ownership, career obstacles (security clearances/background checks), and payer source.
  • Identify one evidence-based suicide risk assessment that you could use to screen patients.
  • Identify one evidence-based violence risk assessment that you could use to screen patients.