We are concerned, however, about the confusion regarding what the goals of a psychiatric emergency service and the associated standard of care should be. Is the emergency assessment driven by therapeutic, legal, or economic considerations? Can any limited or triage screening consistently serve all of these purposes? For example, can a defensible suicide risk assessment be accomplished without a reliable diagnostic assessment? Is it a good, thorough assessment, leading to prompt treatment, or is it a decision based on legal considerations or medical necessity? We think that there may need to be a categorization of psychiatric emergency service capabilities, as previously proposed by the American Medical Association (1), that takes these different goals into account.