Current Understanding of the Neurobiology of Agitation

Miller, CWT.

Managing agitation in the clinical setting is a challenge that many practitioners face regularly. Our evolving understanding of the etiological factors involved in aggressive acts has better informed our interventions through pharmacologic and behavioral strategies. This paper reviews the literature on the neurobiological underpinnings of aggressive behaviors, linking psychopathology with proposed mechanisms of action of psychiatric medications shown to be effective in mitigating agitation.

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Management of Agitation During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Wong, AH.

The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic caused by the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 has radically altered delivery of care in emergency settings. Unprecedented hardship due to ongoing fears of exposure and threats to personal safety, along with societal measures enacted to curb disease transmission, have had broad psychosocial impact on patients and healthcare workers alike. These changes can significantly affect diagnosing and managing behavioral emergencies such as agitation in the emergency department. On behalf of the American Association for Emergency Psychiatry, we highlight unique considerations for patients with severe behavioral symptoms and staff members managing symptoms of agitation during COVID-19. Early detection and treatment of agitation, precautions to minimize staff hazards, coordination with security personnel and psychiatric services, and avoidance of coercive strategies that cause respiratory depression will help mitigate heightened risks to safety caused by this outbreak.

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Beyond Buprenorphine: Models of Follow-up Care for Opioid Use Disorder in the Emergeny Department

Martin, A.

Recent evidence shows that emergency physicians (EP) can help patients obtain evidence-based treatment for Opioid Use Disorder by starting medication for addiction treatment (MAT) directly in the Emergency Department (ED). Many EDs struggle to provide options for maintenance treatment once patients are discharged from the ED. Health systems around the country are in need of a care delivery structure to link ED patients with OUD to care following initiation of buprenorphine. This paper reviews the three most common approaches to form effective partnerships between EDs and primary care/addiction medicine services: the Project Alcohol and Substance Abuse Services and Referral to Treatment (ASSERT) model, Bridge model, and ED-Bridge model.

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Buprenorphine for Opioid Use Disorder in the Emergency Department: A Retrospective Chart Review

LeSaint, KT.

Emergency care providers routinely treat patients with acute presentations and sequelae of opioid use disorder. An emergency physician and pharmacist implemented a protocol using buprenorphine for the treatment of patients with opioid withdrawal at an academic, Level I trauma center. We describe our experience regarding buprenorphine implementation in the emergency department (ED), characteristics of patients who received buprenorphine, and rates of outpatient follow-up.

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Nobody Wants to Be Narcan’d: A Pilot Qualitative Analysis of Drug Users’ Perspectives on Naloxone

Lai, JT.

Bystander naloxone distribution is an important component of public health initiatives to decrease opioid-related deaths. While there is evidence supporting naloxone distribution programs, the effects of increasing naloxone availability on the behavior of people who use drugs have not been adequately delineated. In this study we sought to 1) evaluate whether individuals’ drug use patterns have changed due to naloxone availability; and 2) explore individuals’ knowledge of, access to, experiences with, and perceptions of naloxone.

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Assessment and Diagnosis of Mental Illness in EDs Among Individuals Without a Home: Findings from the National Hospital Ambulatory Care Survey

Ahmed, H.

Homeless individuals lack resources for primary healthcare and as a result use the emergency department (ED) as a social safety net. Our primary objective in this study was to identify the differences between features of visits to United States (US) EDs made by patients without a home and patients who live in a private residence presenting with mental health symptoms or no mental health symptoms at triage.

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Mobile Crisis Outreach and Emergency Department Utilization: A Propensity Score-matched Analysis

Vakkalanka, JP.

Mental health and substance use disorder (MHSUD) patients in the emergency department (ED) have been facing increasing lengths of stay due to a shortage of inpatient beds. Previous research indicates mobile crisis outreach (MCO) reduces long ED stays for MHSUD patients. Our objective was to assess the impact of MCO contact on future ED utilization.

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An Automated Tobacco Cessation Intervention for Emergency Department Discharged Patients

Chiu, DT.

Nearly 14% of US adults currently smoke cigarettes. Cigarette smoking causes more than 480,000 deaths each year in the United States. Emergency department (ED) patients are frequently asked for their use of tobacco. Manual selection of pre-formed discharge instructions is the norm for most ED. Providing tobacco cessation discharge instructions to ED patients presents another avenue to combat the tobacco use epidemic we face. The objective of the study is to evaluate the effectiveness of an automated discharge instruction system in increasing the frequency of discharging current tobacco users with instructions for tobacco cessation.

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Emergency Department Clinicians’ Attitudes Toward Opioid Use Disorder and Emergency Department-initiated Buprenorphine Treatment: A Mixed-Methods Study

Im, MD, et al.

Emergency department (ED) visits related to opioid use disorder (OUD) have increased nearly twofold over the last decade. Treatment with buprenorphine has been demonstrated to decrease opioid-related overdose deaths. In this study, we aimed to better understand ED clinicians’ attitudes toward the initiation of buprenorphine treatment in the ED.

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Legalized Cannabis in Colorado Emergency Departments: A Cautionary Review of Negative Health and Safety Effects

Roberts, MD.

Cannabis research may offer novel treatment of seizures, spasticity from multiple sclerosis, nausea and vomiting from chemotherapy, chronic pain, improvements in cardiovascular outcomes, and sleep disorders. Progress has been slow due to absent standards for chemical composition of cannabis products and limitations on research imposed by federal classification of cannabis as illegal.

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Variations in Opioid Prescribing Behavior by Physician Training

Leventhal, MD, et al.

Patients often present to the emergency department (ED) with painful conditions seeking analgesic relief. While there is known variability in the prescribing behaviors of emergency physicians, it is unknown if there are differences in these behaviors based on training level or by resident specialty.

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Contact Information

WestJEM/ Department of Emergency Medicine
UC Irvine Health

3800 W Chapman Ave Ste 3200
Orange, CA 92868, USA
Phone: 1-714-456-6389


ISSN: 1936-900X
e-ISSN: 1936-9018

ISSN: 2474-252X

Our Philosophy

Emergency Medicine is a specialty which closely reflects societal challenges and consequences of public policy decisions. The emergency department specifically deals with social injustice, health and economic disparities, violence, substance abuse, and disaster preparedness and response. This journal focuses on how emergency care affects the health of the community and population, and conversely, how these societal challenges affect the composition of the patient population who seek care in the emergency department. The development of better systems to provide emergency care, including technology solutions, is critical to enhancing population health.