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Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Emergency Departments a 'Dumping Ground' for Psych Patients

LAS VEGAS – Dwindling mental health resources are turning the nation's emergency departments (EDs) into a "dumping ground" for psychiatric emergencies, including those involving children.

Results of a poll of more than 1700 emergency physicians conducted by the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) reveals that almost one quarter of ED physicians (21%) reported they have psychiatric patients waiting in the ED for 2 to 5 days for in-patient beds.

In addition, more than half (52%) of respondents reported that the mental health system in their communities had worsened during the past year.

These "extremely troubling" findings reflect the experience of Rebecca Parker, MD, an emergency physician at West Suburban Medical Center in Oak Park, Illinois, who is the incoming president of the ACEP.

"Psychiatric patients wait in the emergency department for hours and even days for a bed, which delays the psychiatric care they so desperately need. It also leads to delays in care and diminished resources for other emergency patients. The emergency department has become the dumping ground for these vulnerable patients who have been abandoned by every other part of the healthcare system," Dr Parker said in a press release.

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3 comments:

Anonymous said...

A huge problem.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Obamacare!

Anonymous said...

Very complex problem from the patient side. Not enough crisis care facilities exist, and too many of those in crisis have no form of insurance.
The ACA doesn't address the problem. The closing of the bulk of state-run, long-term mental health facilities in the early 80's, with the expectation that community based facilities and outpatient care would fill the gap was founded in a misbegotten kneejerk with little attention paid to the real needs. The gap is being filled in ERs, but not effectively so, as is wholly evident. So very many mental health patients are uninsured or under-insured that the only place left is the emergency room, where those folks come and cannot be turned away.