Study Highlights Use of New Tool for Assessing Pediatric Behavioral Health Acuity in EDs

Paper outlines the development and implementation in May Journal of Emergency Nursing

SCHAUMBURG, Ill., May 7, 2024 /PRNewswire/ -- The rising pediatric mental health crisis has put a strain on emergency departments across the country. "The Development and Implementation of a Pediatric Nursing Emergency Behavioral Health Assessment Tool" in the May issue of the Journal of Emergency Nursing addresses the fact there is no current standardized tool for assessing mental and behavioral acuity in emergency departments.

Using published evidence, nurse feedback and expert opinion, a team of researchers created the Emergency Behavioral Health Assessment Tool to help improve pediatric care in emergency departments. Acuity levels were captured and suggested interventions were given based on that level once objectively captured by the eBHat.

From 2021-2022, approximately 23 patients each day presented to the emergency department's mental and behavioral health area where the tool was tested. Since its implementation in August 2021, patient restraint use, as well as patient and staff injuries, have both declined - though the length of stay did not change, according to the team's research.

"ED nurses are critical in assessing and advocating for all their patients, and an understanding of a child's current mental or behavioral needs during an emergency visit can aid in delivering appropriate care," said Journal of Emergency Nursing Editor-in-Chief Anna Valdez, PhD, RN, PHN, CEN, CFRN, CNE, FAEN, FAADN. "This starts by having an accurate acuity level of those patients coming in. The eBHat helps to provide this and guide care-related conversations."

The Journal of Emergency Nursing, ENA's peer-reviewed academic journal, is published six times a year with original research and updates from the emergency nursing specialty, while also covering practice and professional issues.

The May issue can be found online here. Other topics covered include universal suicidality screening in a pediatric emergency department and management of pediatric convulsive status epilepticus.

About the Emergency Nurses Association
The Emergency Nurses Association is the premier professional nursing association dedicated to defining the future of emergency nursing through advocacy, education, research, innovation, and leadership. Founded in 1970, ENA has proven to be an indispensable resource to the global emergency nursing community. With nearly 50,000 members worldwide, ENA advocates for patient safety, develops industry-leading practice standards and guidelines, and guides emergency health care public policy. ENA members have expertise in triage, patient care, disaster preparedness, and all aspects of emergency care. Additional information is available at

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SOURCE Emergency Nurses Association