Behavioral Health in the ED

Many of us look forward to the holiday season, providing a chance to spend time with family and friends. For many, the holiday season is a time to look forward to, a time to spend with friends and family. This time of year can also cause added stress though, especially for patients already living with mental health issues. Stress, seasonal affective disorder, and the ‘holiday blues” all increase at the start of the cold holiday months.

The added stress and expectations of the holidays can cause significant challenges for many patients with conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury, or chronic pain. Many of these conditions inherently make people more vulnerable to stressful situations, meaning they have a decreased capacity to handle the added stress of the holidays. A survey by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) found that 64% of people with mental illness reported that the holidays make their condition worse.

Increasing ER visits over the holidays

All of this results in many more visits to the emergency room for patients during the holiday season. And as many people travel to see family, it can result in patients visiting hospitals in areas they are unfamiliar with and with little to no access to their regular physicians. Almost 37,000 people across the US visited the emergency room on Thanksgiving in 2016, and emergency rooms expect to see as many as 15% more patients over the holiday season.

As we have covered in past posts, many emergency room staff members are not equipped to treat mental health patients. Often, they lack even the most basic training in caring for mentally ill patients as psychiatric care is not a required part of an emergency physician’s training. This problem only increases over the holidays when emergency departments are overrun with a higher number of patients than normal.

We know that psychiatric patient visits to the emergency room are increasing and even outpacing non-psychiatric visits. If emergency personnel do not have the proper training to recognize and treat mental health disorders, it can lead to a tough holiday season for both the patients and the caring, but overwhelmed medical staff.

Telepsychiatry, always available

This lack of access to trained physicians during the holidays can have many adverse effects on patient outcomes. With telepsychiatry though, hospitals can avoid many of these issues with mental health patients, without needing to increase their on-site staff levels.

MindCare’s team of trained specialists are available 24/7 to provide timely access to quality mental health care. On an ordinary day, as many as 1 in 8 patients in the emergency room has a mental health issue as their primary complaint. During the holiday season, these numbers could be even higher.

On average, psychiatric patients can costs hospitals as much as $130 more per hour than other patients as the average boarding time for psychiatric patients ranges from 8 to 34 hours. Telepsychiatry can significantly reduce the length of patient stays and the strain on overworked emergency staff.

MindCare carefully selects mental health specialists, including board psychiatrists, nurse practitioners, licensed clinical social workers, and counselors who are well versed in behavioral health patient care and standard operating procedures in the emergency department. We offer round-the-clock access to coordinated treatment planning and problem-solving for behavioral health patients. We understand the stresses and strains of providing behavioral healthcare in the emergency department and aim to fit seamlessly with your operational workflow. Our team works collaboratively with yours to deliver the best quality care to your patients. At MindCare, we guarantee quick response times, robust clinical documentation, and timely follow-up.

With the support of telepsychiatry, emergency department staff feel more empowered and better able to treat their psychiatric patients, improving the holiday season for both patients and employees.

Happy Holidays!