Inpatient Medical Stabilization

UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital, San Francisco is fully equipped to provide medical stabilization of patients who are severely underweight or who are experiencing urgent health problems, such as heart function abnormalities or electrolyte imbalances, due to an eating disorder. 

Inpatient Medical Care

Our interdisciplinary team specializes in the treatment of young people with eating disorders. Inpatient care at UCSF is specifically for individuals requiring hospital interventions due to medical instability, rather than extended care for psychiatric instability. Our team psychologists and social worker provide psychiatric support during the medical hospitalization and work closely with the consult-liaison psychiatry team, music therapists, art therapists, child life therapists, and nurse coordinator to meet each individual’s needs. For inpatient hospitalization questions, please call the UCSF Pediatric Access Center at 877-822-4453 and request to speak with an on-call physician from the Eating Disorders Program.

Once admitted, the interdisciplinary team provides:

  • Dietary assessment from a Registered Dietitian and an individualized meal plan to restore weight and physical health
  • Fully supervised meals
  • A range of psychosocial interventions to support families and individuals in coping with the hospital stay, including a psychiatric assessment, family needs assessment, and one-on-one supportive therapies
  • Discharge planning with our interdisciplinary team to support continued progress at home.

Following discharge from the inpatient medical unit, the UCSF Eating Disorders Program can provide continued outpatient care, including medical follow-up, psychological care, and nutrition counseling. 

Admission Criteria

Patients who meet one of the following criteria may be admitted to our inpatient unit for medical stabilization:


< 75% ideal body weight or ongoing weight loss despite intensive management

Acute food refusal

Severe and/or prolonged food refusal may be grounds for admission


Heart rate < 50 per minute daytime


·   Pulse increase of more than 35

·   Systolic BP decrease of more than 20

·   Diastolic BP decrease of more than 10


Blood pressure < 90/45


Temperature < 36° C

EKG abnormalities

e.g., prolonged QTc > 0.45


Serum potassium < 3 mmol/L

Other acute symptoms

e.g., syncope, esophageal tears, intractable vomiting, hematemesis, suicidal ideation