Refer a Patient
About Our Program
Outpatient care for patients with eating disorders is offered by two outpatient departments, Adolescent Medicine and Psychiatry, working collaboratively. See what services we provide.
- Adolescent Medicine: Services include medical support, nutrition support and social work support. Some families who come to us are already established with a community mental health provider (outside therapist).
- Psychiatry: Services include individual and family-based mental health therapy and group therapy for families and youth. Our providers collaborate closely with providers in Adolescent Medicine and community medical providers as some families will be receiving medical services through their primary care physician.
How to Refer
There are two paths for referring to the Eating Disorders Recovery Program:
- For medical or nutrition concerns related to eating disorders: Refer your patient to Adolescent Medicine following the guidance on this page. Write “Adolescent Medicine – Eating Disorders” on the referral. Patients are offered a 1-time telehealth visit with a medical provider as a starting point.
- For mental health concerns related to eating disorders: Refer your patient to Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine following that program’s referral guidance. Write “Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine – Eating Disorders” on the referral. Patients are offered a 1-time telehealth visit with a psychologist or mental health therapist as a starting point.
Patients can be referred to both Adolescent Medicine and Psychiatry; each is its own referral. (Some patients may not need both. For example, if the patient’s primary care provider is comfortable managing them medically, the patient may not need care from Adolescent Medicine. If the patient already has or will seek mental health care in the community, they may not need care from Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine.)
Updated November 2023.
Given the rise in the number and severity of patients with eating disorders during the COVID-19 pandemic, Adolescent Medicine revised our program to better accommodate the number of referrals we receive.
- All referred patients will be offered a 1-time telehealth consultation with the option to join a waitlist for ongoing care based on fit of services and family interest. The current wait time is 4 to 6 weeks.
- Patients must have a complete referral from their primary care provider in order to schedule an appointment. See referral guidelines below for details.
- During the consultation, your patient will meet with an Adolescent Medicine provider who will gather a detailed history and attempt to clarify their diagnosis and provide treatment recommendations. Your patient will be offered a meeting with a social worker, who can provide additional support and resources. After the visit, we will follow up with you via telephone or faxed clinical notes to share our recommendations.
- After the consultation, we will not continue to follow your patient but will be able to provide support and resources for you to continue caring for them. If the patient elects to receive care in our 12-week outpatient model, we will add them to the waitlist for further support in Adolescent Medicine.
Primary care management of eating disorders: Given the high number of patients presenting with eating disorder symptoms, we are working with primary care providers in management. We recommend all patients establish care with a multidisciplinary team (including mental health, nutrition and medical provider).
When to refer to the Emergency Department: Please see our Admit Criteria (PDF) for medical stabilization, and send your patient to the Emergency Department if you are concerned about the need for medical admission.
We must receive the following information to expedite the scheduling of your patient. Please obtain this information and fax the results to 206-985-3121 as soon as possible.
- New Appointment Request Form (PDF) (DOC)
- Growth charts
- A physical exam with vital signs completed at the PCP office within the past 14 days. Physical exam should include HEENT, neck, CV, lungs, abdomen and extremities (e.g., +/- LE edema, capillary refill). Vital signs must include height, weight, heart rate and blood pressure.
We would also appreciate receiving the following, but they are not required:
- Labs (CBC, ALT, T4, TSH, electrolytes, BUN/creatinine, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, sed rate) – within the last 30 days
- EKG within the last 30 days. Please note, if you do not have the capacity to perform an EKG, please send orders to Seattle Children’s Heart Center and instruct the patient and family to call to schedule.
- We see patients ages 10 through 20. Please refer patients 21 and older to an adult provider. Patients 18 through 20 years old will be offered a 1-time telehealth consultation without the possibility of ongoing care at Seattle Children’s.
- This program is not designed to manage patients with eating concerns secondary to psychosis or schizoaffective disorder.
- We do not have embedded therapists or counselors in our clinic. We work as a team with mental health providers in Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine and in the community.
- To expedite access to mental health care, please work with your patient to initiate treatment with a mental health provider before their first appointment with Adolescent Medicine.
What Your Patients Can Expect
Here’s what your patients can expect during their telehealth consultation with Adolescent Medicine eating disorders providers:
- The patient and family will meet with a medical provider and be offered the opportunity to meet with a social worker as needed.
- The goal is to confirm the diagnosis, recommend resources and provide guidance to the referring primary care provider around medical management of disordered eating.
- All families who meet outpatient care criteria will receive information about the Adolescent Medicine 12-week Outpatient Eating Disorders Program at Seattle Children’s, which includes regular medical and nutrition follow-up care delivered in collaboration with a Seattle Children’s therapist or community therapist.
- Interested families can opt to be placed on a waitlist to establish care in the program as space becomes available.
Resources for Providers
We provide many resources for patients and families. Providers may find these helpful to understand our services and share with their patients and families:
- Eating Disorders referral algorithm (PDF)
- Eating Disorder Treatment Facilities (PDF) (for-profit facilities in the Western United States)
- Family-Based Therapy Providers for Eating Disorders (PDF) (King County, WA)
- How to Find a Therapist (PDF) (Spanish)
- Meal Support Training for Parents (PDF) (Spanish) (offered by Psychiatry twice a week for children and teens who are current Seattle Children’s patients; no appointment needed)
- Outpatient Eating Disorders Program Infographic (PDF) (how our program works)
- Restoring Nutrition: What to Expect During Your Child’s Hospital Stay (Spanish) (PDF) (useful if the family is being sent to the Emergency Department for admission)
Outside facilities with expertise in the management of eating disorders: