The Eating Disorders Program at Torrance Memorial Medical Center takes referrals from physicians, dietitians, psychotherapists and other health care professionals. We also accept referrals from residential and outpatient eating disorder programs.

Our experienced staff specializes in treating patients at high risk for refeeding syndrome and other dangerous medical conditions resulting from their eating disorders.

For these patients, admission to an acute care hospital with eating disorders expertise allows them to begin their recovery safely and successfully. It also means they can use their medical insurance benefit for stabilization while preserving their behavioral health benefits for ongoing treatment.

Who should be referred?

We strongly recommend that patients with any one of the following indicators begin treatment in a medical hospital, rather than a residential treatment center (RTC) or lower level of care:

  • Adults: Body Mass Index (BMI) < 15
  • Adolescents: BMI < 3rd percentile with any weight loss OR < 75% of expected BMI. If expected BMI is unknown, use 50th percentile for age*
  • Weight loss > 20% over the past 3 months (even if previously overweight)
  • Little or no calorie intake (< 200 kcal/day) for 10 days or more
  • Potassium < 3.0
  • Low phosphorus, magnesium, or sodium
  • Glucose < 60
  • Unable to consume at least 1300 calories/day by mouth
  • Dehydration
  • ECG abnormalities: QTc > 450, HR < 44, or other arrhythmias
  • Eating disorder diagnosis uncertain (concern that patient may have a medical condition or disease)
  • Gastrointestinal conditions interfering with eating

Note: To determine adolescent BMI, use CDC BMI-for-age charts specifically for boys and girls.

For patients with any two of the following indicators, hospitalization is likely to be the most appropriate choice. In this case, a medical provider should approve admission to RTC or lower level of care:

  • Adults: BMI < 17
  • Weight loss > 15% in the past 3 months
  • Calorie intake < 200 kcal/day for past 5-10 days
  • Heart rate < 50 beats per minute on ECG or by pulse
  • Temperature < 97.0
  • Systolic blood pressure < 90 mmHg
  • Orthostatic changes (> 40 beats increase in heart rate or > 15 mmHg drop in systolic blood pressure)
  • Active alcohol or drug abuse within the week prior to admission
  • Anorexia nervosa with purging
  • Long-term use of insulin, chemotherapy, diuretics, H2-blockers, proton pump inhibitors, laxatives, immunosuppressants or prednisone
  • Chronic disease, such as Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, HIV or diabetes mellitus
  • Any electrolyte abnormality

Please note that these guidelines may not identify all patients who should be admitted to a hospital for medical stabilization. In case of any uncertainty, refer to a physician with experience treating eating disorders.