The presentation of aggressive children and adolescents to emergency departments in Western Sydney.

S. Woolfenden, D. Dossetor, K. Nunn, K. Williams

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AIM: To examine the utilization characteristics of children and adolescents with aggression presenting to emergency departments (ED) in Western Sydney. METHODS: Retrospective chart review of children and adolescents who presented with aggression to five non-psychiatric emergency departments over a 5-year period. Data were linked with the National Coroner's Information System Database. RESULTS: There were 279 index presentations by children and adolescents (66% male) with aggression. One hundred and seventeen (42%) were 14 years or under. The majority presented after working hours and/or on weekends (62%). Fifty-three percent of presentations had a self-harm component. In 26% of presentations, there was no documentation of mental health involvement. Children were discharged in 62% of presentations. Sixty-eight (24%) children and adolescents subsequently re-presented on 135 occasions with self-harm and/or aggression over the 5-year period. Four (1%) adolescents died. CONCLUSION: A presentation to an ED with aggression by a child or adolescent is an indicator of significant psychosocial dysfunction. These children and adolescents present when services are least accessible and are at risk of re-presentation and death. To address this issue, systems need to be developed that facilitate collaboration between EDs and child and adolescent mental health services.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)651-653
Number of pages3
JournalJournal of Paediatrics and Child Health
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2003
Externally publishedYes

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