ABCDs of Acute Behavioural Emergencies (2021)

Behavioural emergencies are complex and misleading. The cause of acute behavioural change may be as simple as “a bottle of vodka” or as sinister as meningitis. The differential diagnosis is incredibly broad and these patients require careful assessment of both their physical and mental health.

It is very easy to label patients with behavioural disturbance as “psych,” especially if they already have a history of mental illness. However, there is a strong association between primary mental disorders and substance abuse. People with a primary mental disorder have a higher risk of addiction (30%) and those with a primary addictive disorder may have a higher rate of mental illness. A third of patients suffering from alcohol misuse/abuse have co-morbid mental illness. Fifty percent of patients with drug abuse disorders have a psychiatric illness. In addition to patients with behavioural problems related to mental illness or substance abuse, there is a large group whose behavioural emergency is directly related to a medical illness. These medical illnesses can be the sole cause of the behavioural disturbance or can co-exist with mental illness or substance abuse.

In this eLearning topic we consider the approach to the patient with behavioural disturbance. we begin by considering the immediate priorities in assessment and management and focus our attention on reducing risk (to the patient and others) and screening for immediately treatable medical causes such as head injury, hypoglycaemia, infection and drug intoxication or withdrawal. In the second part of the course we outline procedure for managing the severely agitated patient and explore in detail the options for pharmacological sedation.

The course will specifically review:

1. The "ABCD" Approach to the Patient with Behavioural Disturbance

2. Medical Causes for Behavioural Disturbance and the Legal Procedure for Involuntary Detention

3. Management of the Agitated Patient

4. Pharmacology of Sedative Drugs

Information about the Course

  • Designed for medical officers, nurses, paramedics and students in all medical fields

  • CME hours: Certified for 8.5 hours of continuing medical education

  • CPD accreditation: ACRRM and RACGP

  • Duration of enrolement: 12 months (commences from the date of course enrolement)

  • CPD Certificate is provided with successful completion of the course

Course Accreditation (2020 - 2022)



  • Course Code: 19692

  • Points Allocation: 8 Educational Activity PDP units


  • Course code : 194213

  • 17 CPD points

Instructions : Course Enrolment

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  • Course Fee : Aus $75.00 (Aus) + $7.50 (GST) = $82.50

  • Duration of enrolment is 12 months from date of payment

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