The Big ER Problem for Mental Health Patients

Mental health patients at the ER

Busy triage nurses have a tough job: they have to quantify your suffering, measure it against the suffering of other people who happened to come to the emergency room when you did, and determine if someone else needs care before you do. That’s the reality of every hospital ER, every day.

In those conditions, no one suffers more than patients with mental health emergencies. Their conditions are not always accompanied with visible symptoms, but their effects on a patient can be debilitating, painful, and even life-threatening.

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality reported that one in eight emergency rooms visits is for mental health and/or substance abuse cases. Of those, mood disorders make up more than 40% of mental health ER visits, the most of any group. In second and third place are anxiety disorders and then alcohol-related conditions.

These patients wait much longer than other patients in a hospital emergency room. According to the National Hospital Ambulatory Care Survey, 23% of mental health patients waited in the hospital ER for longer than 6 hours, which is two hours longer than patients with physical ailments.

“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,” said Dr. Rebecca Parker, MD, FACEP, president of the American College of Emergency Physicians. “It is an outrage. These patients have needs that are simply not being met. The severe shortage of psychiatric beds in almost all hospitals and intensive outpatient resources is leaving these patients stranded for hours and even days.”

Mental illness needs to be treated immediately, especially for those at risk of self-harm. Freestanding emergency rooms exist to respond to the growing need for immediate medical attention, especially in mental health situations. Freestanding emergency rooms carry the same charges as hospital emergency rooms, but there are two major differences:

  1. Depending on which freestanding ER you visit, you will be seen immediately. Average wait time in Texas hospitals is between 2.5 and 4 hours. At Emergis ER, every patient is immediately brought to an examination room where a nurse listens to their concerns and prepares anything that may be necessary for your care.
  2. Freestanding ERs do not admit patients for long-term care; instead, they will transport patients by ambulance to the appropriate hospital as soon as a patient is stabilized at the freestanding ER.

At Emergis ER, we want you to come see us immediately with any mental health concerns for yourself or for your children. On average, people are in and out of Emergis ER in just over an hour—at a hospital, the average wait time just to be seen by a nurse is four hours.

Mental health emergencies are some of the most significant emergencies that a person can deal with. Come to Emergis ER immediately to get rapid, compassionate emergency care.