OBJECTIVE: To review the case records of patients admitted to an accident and emergency (A&E) observation ward following deliberate self harm. METHODS: The hospital notes of 568 patients admitted during one year following episodes of deliberate self harm were reviewed. The study was retrospective. RESULTS: The majority of these patients had taken an overdose and were between 18 and 35 years of age. Most patients were admitted to the observation ward after midnight or in the evening and were subsequently managed by an A&E based deliberate self harm team. Only 20% of admissions required evaluation by a psychiatrist. Most patients were discharged the next day without further follow up. CONCLUSIONS: The use of a specialised A&E based team and an A&E observation ward is appropriate for the management of many deliberate self harm patients.
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