Why Are ER Wait Times Getting Longer for Kids in Mental Health Crisis?

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Sumary of Why Are ER Wait Times Getting Longer for Kids in Mental Health Crisis?:

  • Children commonly wait hours in the emergency room for help with a mental health crisis — a problem that has worsened over time, a new study finds..
  • Researchers found that between 2005 and 2015, prolonged ER stays became ever more common for children and teenagers in need of mental health help..
  • said Dr. Ken Duckworth, chief medical officer for the nonprofit National Alliance on Mental Illness in Arlington, Va..
  • said Dr. Jennifer Hoffmann, one of the researchers on the study and an ER doctor at Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago..
  • Hoffmann said that while the study period went to 2015, the COVID-19 pandemic has only increased the demand for pediatric mental health services..
  • At her hospital, the percentage of ER visits for mental health conditions has doubled since the start of the pandemic..
  • Prolonged ER visits — surpassing 12 hours in some cases — are closely linked to provider supply, both Hoffmann and Duckworth said..
  • Most of the ER stay is about finding a child appropriate follow-up care — either a bed if a hospital admission is necessary, or an outpatient mental health appointment..
  • Throughout that period, ER visits were longer for children with mental health needs than for kids with strictly physical diagnoses..
  • Meanwhile, prolonged stays for mental health conditions grew increasingly common, while there was no such change for physical conditions..
  • Hispanic children were especially vulnerable to those marathon stays — with triple the risk facing white children…

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