This study quantifies the frequency of adverse events (AEs) experienced by psychiatric patients while boarded in the emergency department (ED) and describes those events over a broad range of categories.

A retrospective chart review (RCR) of adult psychiatric patients aged 18–55 presenting to one of four Calgary EDs (Foothills Medical Centre (FMC), the Peter Lougheed Centre (PLC), the Rockyview General Hospital (RGH), and South Health Campus (SHC)) who were subsequently admitted to an inpatient psychiatric unit between January 1, 2019 and May 15, 2019 were eligible for review. A test of association was used to determine the odds of an independent variable being associated with an adverse event.

During the study time period, 1862 adult patients were admitted from EDs (city wide) to the psychiatry service. Of the 200 charts reviewed, the average boarding time was 23.5 h with an average total ED length of stay of 31 h for all presentations within the sample. Those who experienced an AE while boarded in the ED had a significantly prolonged average boarding time (35 h) compared to those who did not experience one (6.5 h) (p = 0.005). The length of time a patient is in the emergency department and the length of time a patient is boarded after admission significantly increases the odds that the patient will experience an AE while in the ED. Other significant factors associated with AEs include the type of admission and the hospital the patient was admitted from.

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