Background: Few emergency department (ED) studies have examined how psychiatric comorbidity relates to hospitalisation decisions.
Methods: We assessed the relationship of psychiatric comorbidity to hospitalisation decisions among ED patients in the 2004 National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey.
Results: Patients with psychiatric comorbidity were five times more likely to be hospitalised than patients with a single psychiatric diagnosis. The most frequent psychiatric comorbidities involved substance use disorders (SUDs).
Conclusions: Psychiatric disorders are underdiagnosed among ED patients. We believe that this underdiagnosis may be partly responsible for the high hospitalisation rates of ED patients with SUDs
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Competing interests: none declared
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