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PIRC–What to Expect in the Emergency Department

Call the PIRC at 205-638-PIRC (7472) for mental health resources in your community.


  • Registration staff will ask for the reason you have come to the emergency room, as well as other basic information.
  • A nurse will assess the patient’s needs and urgency of treatment.

Treatment Room

  • The patient and caregiver will move to a secured and safe treatment room in the emergency room.
  • A Clinical Associate (CA) will remove all patient belongings and place in a locker for safety.
  • Staff will provide patient with paper scrubs to change into.
  • At least one family member or caregiver is required to stay with the patient at all times.
  • No electronics or personal items are allowed in the room for safety reasons. Personal belongings will be secured in a locker. Phones are available for caregivers to use.
  • A nurse and/or a CA will check vital signs and the nurse may give medication as needed.

Medical Exam

  • The patient will be assessed by an Attending Physician who determine if medically stable.
  • If cleared medically, the patient is seen by the mental health team.

Psychiatric Exam

  • An intake assessment will be conducted by a Licensed Professional Counselor, Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker, Nurse Practitioner or doctor, all under the care of the Attending Psychiatrist. The assessment includes reasons for the emergency room visit, a history of mental health concerns past or present, any previous treatment, family history and a mental status exam.
  • An evaluation may be conducted by the Attending Psychiatrist.

Treatment Plan/Admission or Transfer/Discharge from Emergency Room

  • The mental health team will consult with the Attending Psychiatrist, Attending Physician, and family/caregiver to determine the best treatment for the patient.
  • Admission to Children’s or transfer to another facility will be coordinated by a staff member.
  • If the patient is not admitted for care, a team member will refer the patient back to their mental health provider or give a list of outpatient providers for follow-up.

Call the PIRC at 205-638-PIRC (7472) for mental health resources in your community.