2018 Medical Assessment and Screening Guidelines for Adults and Children


On Monday, November 5, 2018, newly established Medical Assessment and Screening Guidelines (Guidelines) went into effect in Virginia.

The Guidelines were developed through a Medical Assessment Workgroup made up of representatives from the Virginia College of Emergency Physicians (VACEP), the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services (DBHDS), and the Virginia Hospital & Healthcare Association (VHHA). In addition, feedback was sought from multiple behavioral health stakeholders throughout Virginia.

The Guidelines are the result of consensus built to develop minimum standards when evaluating a patient who presents in the emergency department (ED) with psychiatric symptoms. The new Guidelines will:

  • Assist with efficiently identifying potential medical etiology and medical comorbidities requiring treatment.
  • Encourage and reinforce doctor-to-doctor communication and collaboration through the establishment of procedures for amicably resolving concerns around psychiatric admissions.
  • Outline the admission limitations of state psychiatric hospitals and crisis stabilization units (CSUs) through a list of exclusionary criteria.
  • Establish the Protocol Review and Monitoring Committee (PRMC) to monitor implementation and recommend revisions to the Guidelines as needed.

When implemented, the Guidelines will improve the process for evaluating the medical and/or psychiatric needs of individuals presenting in the ED, as well as facilitating disposition.

Medical Assessment Workgroup Members:

Alison Land – Chair, VHHA Behavioral Health Committee
Bruce Lo, MD – President, VACEP
Mike O’Connor – DBHDS
Aimee Perron Seibert – VACEP
Joran Sequeira, MD – VACEP
Jennifer Wicker – VHHA