bh guidelines

Safety in the Emergency Department–Improving the Care of Behavioral Health Patients

In 2018, at the request of its membership, the Academic Medical Center Patient Safety Organization (AMC PSO) convened the Emergency Medicine Behavioral Health Safety Task Force to evaluate best practices and current risks associated with the care of patients with behavioral health crises in the Emergency Department (ED). The Task Force developed a set of consensus-based recommendations and risk mitigation strategies in an attempt to help optimize care and improve patient and staff safety in this dynamic environment.

The Task Force began with a review of the latest scientific evidence, guidance, and opinion-statements from relevant professional societies, as well as input from frontline providers.


  • William Baker
    Boston Medical Center
  • Theodore Benzer
    Massachusetts General Hospital
  • Suzanne Bird
    Massachusetts General Hospital
  • Valerie Blathras
    Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital Milton
  • Kelly Branham
    University of Florida
  • Jennifer Brown
    Mount Auburn Hospital
  • Brian Cormier
    Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital Milton
  • Jennifer Cummings
    Boston Childrens Hospital
  • Lachlan Forrow
    Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
  • Sara Fisher
    Massachusetts General Hospital
  • Marian Girouard-Spino
    South Shore Mental Health
  • Dave Gitlin
    Brigham and Women’s Hospital
  • Jacqueline Hobbs
    University of Florida
  • Margaret Janes
  • Carol Keohane
  • Luis Lobon
    Brigham and Women’s Hospital
  • Benjamin Milligan
    Cambridge Health Alliance
  • Jim Patelis
    Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital Milton
  • Catherine Perron
    Boston Children’s Hospital
  • John Puleo
    Hamel, Marcin, Dunn, Reardon
    & Shea, P.C.
  • Phillip Rice
    North Shore Medical Center
  • Jeremiah Schuur
    Brigham and Women’s Hospital

Disclosure Statement

The recommendations for Improving the Care and Safety of Behavioral Health Patients in the emergency department were developed under the auspices of the Academic Medical Center Patient Safety Organization (AMC PSO) Emergency Medicine Behavioral Health Safety Task Force. These consensus recommendations are for informational purposes only and should not be construed or relied upon as a standard of care. The AMC PSO recommends institutions review these guidelines and consider these recommendations in light of their own resources, policies, and patient populations. Additionally, institutions should continue to review and modify these recommendations as the field continues to evolve.

While providers are encouraged to be aware of applicable laws and regulations, this document should not be construed as offering legal advice.


Download the Guidelines



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