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August 1988

Civil Commitment in the Psychiatric Emergency Room: I. The Assessment of Dangerousness by Emergency Room Clinicians

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1988;45(8):748-752. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1988.01800320064008

• Critics of the dangerousness standard for civil commitment contend that there is no professional standard for the evaluation of dangerousness. We used Three Ratings of Involuntary Admissibility, a reliable index of behavioral indicators of danger to self, danger to others, and grave disability, and found that when combined into weighted patterns these indicators predicted disposition decisions of 70 clinicians in five psychiatric emergency rooms over 251 cases. A concurrent measure of perceived dangerousness, Clinician's Global Ratings of patients on these criteria, yielded similar results. We conclude that clinicians in California psychiatric emergency rooms apply a shared concept of dangerousness that can be described in behavioral terms.