Amphetamine Abuse in Emergency Department Patients Undergoing Psychiatric Evaluation

The Journal of Emergency Medicine, 04/30/2012

The prevalence of amphetamine–positive urine drug screen (UDS) was high in the study population; however, there was no independent association of amphetamine–positive UDS with involuntary psychiatric hospitalization.


  • 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.


  • 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).

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