Psychiatric Emergency Services
C. Deborah Cross, M.D., Guest Editor
Psychiatric emergency services are a much needed, but usually
rarely discussed, part of the mental health delivery system. The
three articles presented here each outline a distinct, speciﬁc pro-
gram: a psychiatric emergency service in Albany, New York; a
comprehensive psychiatric emergency program in Queens, New
York City; and a pediatric crisis service in Manhattan, New York
City. Though each program has unique characteristics, their simi-
larities are striking, and raise numerous questions regarding the
future of psychiatric emergency and crisis services.
The article by Breslow brieﬂy describes the beginnings of psy-
chiatric emergency services where it was sufﬁcient for a psychia-
trist (or trainee) to be called to the emergency room to brieﬂy see
the patient and make a disposition. However, it is clear that today
most psychiatric services have to provide a comprehensive array
of emergency interventions, such as mobile crisis teams, holding
beds, access to emergency medications, medical evaluations, etc.
As the vast array of psychiatric emergency services continues to
expand, so too does the utilization of those services. All three pro-
grams described in the articles have noted dramatic increases in
utilization of services in the last 10 years, and it appears that
such utilization will continue to increase.
Of interest, too, is the signiﬁcant increase in the number of chil-
dren and adolescents utilizing psychiatric emergency services.
Both the Sullivan and the Breslow articles make speciﬁc mention
of the increase in this special population, and the Feiguine article,
PSYCHIATRIC QUARTERLY, Vol. 71, No. 2, Summer 2000
0033-2720/00/0600-0097$18.00/0 2000 Human Sciences Press, Inc.