American College of Emergency Physicians | News Room - Published Letters

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Flood of mental health patients goes beyond Md.

The mental health care crisis in Maryland mirrors what is seen around the nation (“Hospital emergency rooms in Maryland struggle with flood of patients with mental health, substance-use issues,” April 18). Millions of people are in emergency departments with psychiatric emergencies because there are severe shortages of mental health resources in the United States.

Nearly nine in 10 emergency physicians polled by the American College of Emergency Physicians reported psych patients were being “held” in their emergency departments — some for days — until a psychiatric bed became available. This can lead to violent behavior, can distract staff and create bed shortages, all of which are harmful to all emergency patients.

ACEP has long supported meaningful mental health reform, and our recent research makes it clear that it is time to deliver on the promises made by members of Congress to enact it.

Dr. Paul Kivela, Napa, Calif.
The writer is president of the American College of Emergency Physicians.