Dr. Eth's Introduction: The psychiatric emergency room commonly generates ethical conflicts. Perhaps the best known issue centers on civil commitment. Recent interest has also focused on confidentiality and the duty to protect third parties (the so-called Tarasoff warning). However conspicuous, these two ethical problems constitute only a fraction of the dilemmas facing the admitting room psychiatrist. This month's column explores the ethical issues surrounding patient admissions. Although the decision to admit may seem at first glance to be strictly clinical, an array of competing values establishes an ethical dimension.