Background Risk assessment of patients in general practice is a challenging area of clinical practice. Competing interests of managing patient wishes, consideration of duty to warn others and invoking the Mental Health Act while practising in a medicolegally accountable manner can be difficult.
Objective This article summarises the risk assessment of patients with possible mental disorders and provides suggestions regarding measures that may be undertaken to manage risk in psychiatric emergencies.
Discussion The evidence of effectiveness for risk assessment interventions in acute settings is limited. While it is not possible for general practitioners to predict the future, and particularly to predict fatal outcomes, they can be expected to meet a standard of care that identifies those at risk and provide an acceptable clinical response.
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