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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

May 31, 2013 at 7:03 AM

Hospital treatment for mentally ill

Provide mentally ill with inpatient services

The lack of access to psychiatric outpatient services and psychiatric inpatient care is creating a very dangerous situation for people with mental illnesses and for emergency patients in general [“Editorial: Stop ‘boarding’ mentally ill in emergency rooms,” Opinion, May 29]. These patients often wait several days for inpatient treatment, which may include being transferred to a hospital far away.

According to a 2008 survey of emergency-department directors, almost 80 percent said their hospital “boards” psychiatric patients in the emergency department instead of moving them to an inpatient bed.

Emergency rooms have become de facto psychiatric inpatient service providers, according to a recently published letter in the Annals of Emergency Medicine.

The problem is at our doorstep. People with psychiatric emergencies have nowhere else to turn, and they are in a difficult circumstance waiting for inpatient psychiatric services.

Andrew Sama, president, American College of Emergency Physicians, Manhasset, N.Y.

Comments | More in Health care | Topics: emergency room, health care, inpatient care

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