Psychiatric intensive care

by Dr Aileen O'BrienDr Faisil Sethi and Dr Stephen Pereira 


Last updated: May 2020 by Dr Hamid Alhaj


A psychiatric intensive care unit (PICU) is a hospital ward dedicated to the short-term management of people in an acutely disturbed phase of a serious mental disorder who cannot be safely managed in a general psychiatric ward.


Core features include a high staff to patient ratio and a secure physical environment. Patients are usually detained under the Mental Health Act 1983 (Amended) and are often admitted because of the risk of aggression.


By the end of the module you should have a deeper understanding of:


  • the psychiatric intensive care unit (PICU)


  • the common clinical and demographic features of PICU patients


  • what makes a PICU different from other wards


  • best practice in clinical management in the PICU.


The module will focus on legislations and policies pertaining to England and Wales. Clinicians from other jurisdictions should refer to their appropriate legislative framework.


Start the module



If you like this module, you may also be interested in:


Managing challenging behaviour in mental health in-patient units by Dr Dominic Beer and Mr Darryl Davis 


Rapid tranquillisation of the acutely disturbed patient by Dr Aileen O’Brien, Caroline Parker and Jules Haste


Book from RCPsych Publications

Prevention and Management of Violence: Guidance for Mental Healthcare Professionals edited by Dr Masum Khwaja and Dr Dominic Beer



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