Date of Conferral
Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)
Today's emergency departments (EDs) are challenged with increasing numbers of patients with behavioral health (BH) issues and associated management problems. Patients presenting in the ED are increasingly in need of BH services due to a lack of available services in the community. The implication is that ED staff are faced with conducting a comprehensive review of their systems and processes for BH care delivery to ensure that the needs of this population are safely met. Specifically, this DNP project addressed the lack of evidence-based screening tools for the ED triage area for patients with BH issues. The purpose was to develop a clinical practice guideline targeting an improved triage process for providers with BH patients in the ED setting. Using a modified Delphi technique and the AGREE II model, an expert panel comprised of ED leadership was convened to (a) identify challenges; (b) review a clinical practice guideline that addressed the identified challenges; and (c) approve the implementation of the clinical practice guideline, which included an evidence-based BH screening tool that identified BH needs and expedites the appropriate process of care. Key findings included two 2 components: the expert panel agreed to full implementation of the BH screening tool including the use of the accompanying software, after an in-depth educational process is completed for the ED staff. Potential implications for positive social change include the ability to readily and effectively screen BH patients and provide them with proper BH care while reducing the overall wait time and improving the patient's ED care experience.