Psychiatric Patients Face Long ER Waits

A new study from the American College of Emergency Physicians shows that scarcity of beds and a decrease in the number of hospitals with mental health units has led to long emergency room waits for psychiatric patients.

As the article points out, almost eighty percent of hospitals have a four-hour wait for mentally ill patients. By contrast, for non-psychiatric ailments, only thirty percent of hospitals have a four-hour wait.

From the article:

Only half of the hospitals surveyed had psychiatric units. The rest transferred patients, sometimes far from homes and families. Hospitals are closing their units because of inadequate payments from government and insurers, unpaid costs for the uninsured and too few psychiatrists willing to work in hospitals, says James Bentley of the American Hospital Association.

Patients with mental illness “are the ones we hold the longest because there are so few psychiatric services available, and the ones that are available are overwhelmed,” says David Mendelson, of the physicians group.

If you or someone you know has a psychiatric problem, you should be aware of this issue and be prepared for a lack of support in the event of an emergency.

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