Emergency Physician Highlights Pitfalls in Caring for Psychiatric Patients in the ED

December 19, 2012 | Strategic Insights for Health System


Because the number of emergency department (ED) visits involving psychiatric patients has been rising since the 1990s and that trend appears to be continuing, it is critical for ED physicians to understand common pitfalls in treating these patients, writes an ED physician in the November 2012 Journal of Emergency Medicine. The author notes, for example, that many ED psychiatric patients do not receive any services while they are boarded in the ED awaiting inpatient treatment—a situation that would not be permitted for patients with physiological conditions. This situation can be compounded by staff’s negative attitudes toward these patients, and their inexperience with handling psychiatric patients can hinder the medical clearance process and further exacerbate crowding and boarding.

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