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In This Report, You’ll Learn
How emergency rooms are seeing more pediatric behavioral health patients.
Ways emergency departments often misstep in serving these patients.
10 ideas for improving access to pediatric behavioral health care.
A review of legislation governing emergency services.
What happens when kids visit hospital emergency rooms for behavioral health concerns? Spoiler alert: The results aren’t pretty. This report spells out exactly how America’s emergency departments are failing young behavioral health patients — and outlines a 10-part, policy-driven prescription for change.
Table of Contents
Emergency departments have become substitute sources for routine behavioral health care
The number of pediatric behavioral health visits that emergency rooms are fielding at the time of this report has jumped 34% — from 565,000 to 756,000 — in just 6 years, according to the National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Survey. Despite this increase, emergency departments across America aren’t properly equipped or staffed to care for kids and teens with behavioral health needs.
Findings & Stats
Fewer than 1 in 4 emergency departments have a pediatric emergency physician on staff.
Room to Improve
Just 6% of emergency departments are equipped to deal with child-related emergencies. At the same time, 27% of all emergency room visits are by kids and teens.
Child Abuse Advocates
Pediatric emergency departments are more likely to identify and report child abuse relative to their adult-oriented counterparts.
More Community Care Options
One recommended move? Bolster behavioral health care in the community, which can help kids get treatment earlier and cut the need for emergency intervention.
In California, researchers found that up to 23% of patients who visited an emergency department for suicide-related reasons left without a behavioral health evaluation.
Statements & Quotations
Hospital emergency departments can play an integral role in addressing the mental health of children and youth and appropriately referring them for follow-up care in the community.
Emergency departments are poorly equipped to address the mental health needs of children, youth and their families who seek psychiatric attention.
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