Acute Interventions and Referral of Patients With Bipolar Disorder by the Psychiatric Consultation Liaison Service in a General Hospital in Germany: A Retrospective Analysis

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Objective: To investigate the population of bipolar patients in a general hospital in Germany who required treatment by a consultant psychiatrist.

Method: A retrospective analysis was conducted of the clinical records of 47 patients diagnosed with bipolar disorder (DSM-IV-TR criteria) who were treated by a consultant psychiatrist between 2009 and 2012 in one of the general hospitals of Charité Berlin, Campus Benjamin Franklin, Berlin, Germany. We investigated the sections of the hospital that requested psychiatric consultations for bipolar patients, the status of these patients, and their primary cause of treatment, as well as the intervention (including pharmacotherapy) recommended by the consultant psychiatrist.

Results: For more than half of the patients, their psychiatric illness was either directly or indirectly the reason they presented to the hospital. The remaining bipolar patients were treated for various somatic illnesses unrelated to their bipolar disorder throughout the hospital, with a relative overrepresentation of patients in the neurology department. More than half of the patients were referred to a psychiatric hospital by the consultant psychiatrist. Benzodiazepines were the most commonly administered drugs for acute pharmacologic intervention.

Conclusions: Psychiatric consultations are not frequently requested for bipolar patients compared to those with other psychiatric disorders. However, more than half of the bipolar patients needed further psychiatric treatment in a psychiatric hospital. This finding emphasizes the importance of psychiatric consultations in a general hospital for bipolar patients. The administration of benzodiazepines as an acute treatment seems to be the standard pharmacologic procedure, not a specific pharmacotherapy like mood stabilizers.

Prim Care Companion CNS Disord 2014;16(2):doi:10.4088/PCC.13m01602