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Question:

How do I search for a psychiatrist? I need to find one for my dad who is in a psychiatric hospital. He is 81 and since seizuring 6 weeks ago, has serious anger issues and acts out inappropriately. The attending now seems not to certain of how to proceed. My niece also needs someone. She lost her mother in Dec. and herself has had unresolved issues dealing with lying, and she does not get attached to things. She changes jobs all the time, and never takes responsibility for anything. She is a single parent of a 14 month old and leaves him with lots of people. I think she needs help quick. I do not know how to secure someone GOOD, with the appropriate experience. What are some questions to ask even? I appreciate any wisdom you can offer! Thanks.

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Answer:

The Psychiatric Hospital should as a matter of routine “Continuity of Care” provide your father with appropriate referrals to providers, including a psychiatrist or other appropriate physician to take over his case upon his discharge. If for some reason this does not occur, however, you can search for an appropriate physician yourself. Look for a psychiatrist (an MD) who is board certified in psychiatry (and neurology and/or gerontology as well if possible given your father’s condition and age). I would recommend starting with your regular primary care or family doctor if you have one – he or she should be able to help with an appropriate referral. A local large hospital may have a physician referral service you could use as well. As a last resort, consult your local yellow pages under “psychiatry” As for your family’s ‘non-medical’ concerns – the issue is larger than just your niece as the welfare of her child is at stake. There are a range of credentialed therapists who would be appropriate for you and your niece to consult. A recent article in the New York Daily News provides a decent primer on how to tell one therapist from another. Good luck, Dr. Dombeck

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