A decision strategy for emergency psychiatric assessment should follow this sequence of questions: (1) Is the patient stable or unstable? (2) Does the patient have a serious medical condition that is causing abnormal behavior or thought processes? (3) If the cause of changes in behavior is not due to an underlying medical condition, it will be primarily psychiatric or functional. What is the diagnosis and severity? (4) Is a psychiatric consultation necessary? (5) When should the patient be forcibly detained for emergency evaluation?
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