How to get psychiatric hospital to admit someone

This is from psychiatric nurse and advocate Ann Preston Roselle. She tells you what you might want to say when you go to hospital to get care for yourself or a loved one with mental illness to increase the odds they will admit you rather than say you don’t need admission. Basically, you have to tell the gatekeepers one thing, and then tell the psychiatrist what’s going on. Only by saying the right thing to the gatekeepers can you get to the psychiatrist.

Here’s what Ann wrote:

In terms of voluntary admissions, [whether or not someone is admitted] it does depend on the patient’s illness and need and whether or not a caregiver is present. My psychiatrist has you go to the Emergency Department (ED) and when being assessed by regular emergency department triage nurse (we have to start with that step here to even get to the psychiatric ED)  say (regardless of truth)

“I am suicidal, I have a plan and I do not feel safe leaving here. My psychiatrist asked me to come here for admission for personal safety feeling I am a grave danger to myself.”

That statement will get you back to the psychiatric part of the emergency department. Once there, you get interviewed by a psychiatric triage nurse. Repeat the same statement.

Then, they give you a psychiatric bed in the emergency department and then you will be assessed by the Psych ED attending physician. Only then, can you share what’s actually going on. In my case, I told him, “I was sent to the ED by my psychiatrist (insert name here) for a bipolar depressive episode and he wanted me admitted for ECT as he did not think there was time for meds to work.” A dialogue occurred, he called my attending psychiatrist and I was admitted.

Caregivers of those psychotic and unable to speak for themselves need to be able to state the same language. “My loved one was sent here for suicidal gestures and plan and admission due to the grave danger they present to themselves.” They need to repeat it over and over ONLY telling what is really happening when they speak to the psychiatric ED attending physician and attending psychiatrist ONLY. Not the social worker, not the nurse practitioner (no offense to my profession).

I think it’s the best way to get around the hurdles for voluntary admissions.

For more information read “How to Get Better Care