Study: Psych patients face especially long ED waits

With the number of psychiatric units dropping in hospitals, and beds scarce, mentally-ill patients in need of hospitalization are waiting for increasingly long periods to be admitted, according to new research from the American College of Emergency Physicians. Almost 80 percent of hospitals said mentally-ill patients sometimes wait four or more hours to be admitted, according to ACEP researchers who surveyed 328 emergency medical directors. About 10 percent of those surveyed said that psych patients wait more than a day on average. Meanwhile, average admissions for non-psychiatric patients were lower. Only 30 percent of directors surveyed by ACEP said medically-ill patients waited four hours or more. Meanwhile, during their waits, mentally-ill patients often aren't tended to by those who understand their needs. While they receive care for other medical problems, 61 percent of hospitals don't have psychiatry staff caring for mentally-ill emergency department patients as they wait, researchers found.

To learn more about the study:
- read this USA Today piece

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