Specialty Psychiatric Services in US Emergency Departments and General Hospitals: Results From a Nationwide Survey

Ashley G. Ellison, Luc A.W. Jansen*, Francis Nguyen, Andrew Martina, Jordan Spencer, André I. Wierdsma, Roger G. Kathol, Maarten A. van Schijndel

*Corresponding author for this work

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Objective: To explore the handling of psychiatric patients in medical hospitals and emergency departments (EDs) as well as hospital characteristics associated with the availability of psychiatric services in these settings. Methods: From October 1, 2017, to April 1, 2018, a telephone survey regarding the presence and nature of psychiatric services was attempted among all US registered Medicare hospitals. Results: Of the included 4812 US hospitals, 2394 (50%) were surveyed. Of these hospitals, 1108 (46%) have some psychiatric services available, either in medical EDs or through psychiatric consultation on general medical inpatient wards. If medical ED patients with active psychiatric issues need admission, 59% of hospitals transfer the patient to a different hospital and 28% admit the patient to a medical ward. Exploration by logistic regression analysis of the association of selected variables and available psychiatric expertise suggested that larger hospitals, nonprofit services, or hospitals in urban settings were more likely to have psychiatrists on staff or available for consultation. Conclusion: Despite the growing number of psychiatric patients seeking help in medical EDs and general hospitals, more than 50% of the EDs and general hospitals lack psychiatric services. These results suggest that accessibility to psychiatric care in medical settings requires improvement.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)862-870
Number of pages9
JournalMayo Clinic Proceedings
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2022

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