In 2018, there were more than 12,000 self-harm presentations to emergency departments (EDs) in Ireland with 50% occurring between 7p.m. and 3a.m. There is evidence that the assessment quality and follow-up is variable across clinicians. To address this, The National Clinical Programme for the Management of Self-Harm in the ED (NCPSH 2016) was developed to set clear standards.
Our aim was to compare diagnosis and management of patients presenting to Beaumont Hospital (BH) ED, across a 3-year period, by the on-site Liaison Psychiatry Service, during normal working hours, to the off-site on call service outside of normal working hours (OOH).
This is a retrospective audit of BH ED patients referred for psychiatric assessment between 2018 and 2020, using patient electronic records for data collection, and Pearson’s chi square testing for group differences. Post hoc analysis was performed using adjusted residuals and Bonferroni correction.
Of 3659 psychiatric referrals to Beaumont ED from 2018 to 2020, alcohol-related disorders were the most common diagnosis and were diagnosed more frequently during normal working hours (n = 592, 16.2%; 22.9% normal hours vs 8.5% OOH, p < 0.001), while personality disorder was diagnosed more frequently out of hours. (n = 432, 11.8%; 9.6% normal hours vs 14.4% out of hours, p < 0.001). There was a statistically significant difference in referral to voluntary services out of hours (7.2% normal hours vs 0.3% OOH).
In contrast to previous findings, our study found higher rates of alcohol-related disorders diagnosed during normal hours vs OOH. Furthermore, voluntary and addiction services were under-utilised OOH and this presents an important teaching opportunity.

© 2023. The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Royal Academy of Medicine in Ireland.