Using mostly anecdotal evidence from the Brigham and Women’s Hospital, I previously reported that part of the reason emergency departments (EDs) get backed up is because they are flooded with patients suffering from drug addiction and psychiatric disorders.
Today, FierceHealthcare reported that research confirms my blog post is true. One out of every eight ED visits in 2007 was related to a mental health and/or substance abuse condition (MHSA), according to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.
The report also found that patients with MHSA-related conditions had a hospital admission rate over two and a half times the rate for other ED patients. Because there are fewer and fewer resources available to patients who require further psychiatric care, those patients usually spend twice as long in the ED waiting to be admitted to an in-patient facility, than patients with other conditions.
While those patients wait for further treatment, they drain hospital resources as EDs try to do the job of a psychiatric care facility. The butterfly effect at its finest.