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Case notes of patients admitted to hospital or seen in the casualty department following an overdose were assessed in a standardized way. The medical records were deficient in several important areas, especially for those patients seen in casualty and not referred to a psychiatrist. If only selected patients were to be assessed by psychiatrists, closer monitoring of the psychiatric assessments and management initiated by junior medical staff would be required. Although the poor records may reflect lack of motivation as much as lack of education, there was no significant relationship between the doctors' attitudes towards self-poisoning patients in general and the standard of their assessments.