Amphetamine abuse in emergency department patients undergoing psychiatric evaluation

Adam C. Pomerleau, Mark E. Sutter, Kelly P. Owen, Eleanor Loomis, Timothy E. Albertson, Deborah B. Diercks

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Background: Amphetamine abuse accounts for numerous Emergency Department (ED) visits and is often associated with psychiatric disease, with many patients requiring involuntary psychiatric hold placement. It is a common practice in EDs to obtain a urine drug screen (UDS) as part of the "medical clearance" process for psychiatric patients. However, the prevalence of amphetamine-positive UDS in ED patients with psychiatric disease is unknown, as is the relationship of the UDS test to the final patient disposition. Objectives: The objectives of this study were to determine the prevalence of amphetamine-positive UDS in ED patients undergoing psychiatric evaluation, and whether amphetamine-positive UDS is associated with involuntary psychiatric hold placement. Methods: This was a retrospective study of adult patients seen in a single urban university ED who had a psychiatric evaluation and a UDS over a 1-year period. Eligible patients had results of the UDS, placement of involuntary holds, past psychiatric history, chief complaint, insurance status, and demographic information recorded. Regression analysis was performed, adjusting for the listed covariates, to evaluate the independent association of amphetamine-positive UDS and involuntary psychiatric hold placement. Results: A total of 1207 patients were included for analysis. Amphetamine-positive UDS were found in 14.8% of patients. Multivariate analysis showed no association of a psychiatric hold due to presence of amphetamines on UDS (adjusted odds ratio [OR] 0.76, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.55-1.05, p = 0.1). The only significant factor in placement of an involuntary hold was a past psychiatric history (adjusted OR 1.8, 95% CI 1.2-2.7, p = 0.005). Conclusions: The prevalence of amphetamine-positive UDS was high in the study population; however, there was no independent association of amphetamine-positive UDS with involuntary psychiatric hospitalization.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)798-802
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Emergency Medicine
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 1 2012


  • amphetamine
  • drug abuse
  • emergency department
  • psychiatry
  • urine drug screen

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine


Dive into the research topics of 'Amphetamine abuse in emergency department patients undergoing psychiatric evaluation'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this