Tired of the Wait

Oct 25, 2016

Anyone who has endured hours of waiting in an emergency room knows the frustration—and the danger—of not receiving immediate care.

For Americans with psychiatric emergencies, that wait time is disproportionately longer than for other patients, according to a report released by the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) last week. In fact, 3 out of 4 ER doctors said that at least once every shift, they see patients who need psychiatric hospitalization. Yet 83% of emergency departments do not even have a psychiatrist on call.

"Virtually every emergency physician I know can report anecdotally about the surge in psychiatric patients filling their emergency departments waiting for care in the last year. It is an outrage. These patients have needs that are simply not being met," said Rebecca Parker, MD, FACEP, president of ACEP. ACEP polled more than 1,700 ER doctors between Sept. 28 and Oct. 6, 2016.

Other findings include:

These numbers are not just unsettling; they are unjust. And they are a horrible symptom of our nation’s mental health crisis. With dwindling mental health resources, Americans in mental health emergencies are suffering and ER doctors are helpless.

People having a mental health crisis can’t wait a minute longer. And neither can Congress. 

Mental health reform legislation in the Senate offers solutions to three key issues highlighted in this new data:

It’s time for America to get out of the waiting room and into a mental health system that works. Every hour the Senate delays a vote on mental health reform is another hour that a psychiatric patient is left boarded in an ER waiting for care.

Congress has the power to fix this crisis, and it’s up to us to make sure they do. Stop the waiting game and urge the Senate to pass S. 2680.

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