We are writing this as an open letter to the physicians of BC, primarily family physicians, pediatricians, and psychiatrists. We are asking the doctors to help us determine the need for acute psychiatric treatment services for children age 11 and under. This request comes from our experience working in northern BC as psychiatrists on call for all ages of patients.
Recently, one of us was on call and had three calls in a week for violent 11-year-old patients. Two of them had multiple involvements with police in the weeks preceding the interactions with them and had been to the hospital on previous occasions. The third had stabbed another child at school. All three of these children needed acute psychiatric treatment. BC Children’s Hospital, with its extended waiting list, is not suitable for these emergency situations. Neither is the pediatric ward of our hospital or the general wards of smaller hospitals, where two of the children ended up.
We suspect that physicians in emergencies and in their offices throughout BC are probably facing similar difficulties to those we face in the north. We would like to collect some data on this so that we can go to the administrators and politicians with information to back up our beliefs and hopefully develop more services.
If doctors have similar psychiatric emergency situations with patients age 11 and under, and they are not able to get satisfactory resources for their patients, we would ask them to e-mail my secretary at email@example.com with general information about the cases (i.e., age and presenting complaint, resolution, or lack of). Over the course of the next year, if it turns out that there appears to be a need for more acute psychiatric services for the 11 and under group, we will take steps to officially advocate in this regard.
Thanks very much for any assistance you may be able to provide.
—Barbara Kane, MD
—Rachel Boulding, MD
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