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Emergency Department Treatment of the Psychiatric PatientPolicy Issues and Legal Requirements$
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Susan Stefan

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780195189292

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195189292.001.0001

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Overview of Emergency Services for People with Psychiatric Disabilities

Overview of Emergency Services for People with Psychiatric Disabilities

(p.11) 2 Overview of Emergency Services for People with Psychiatric Disabilities
Emergency Department Treatment of the Psychiatric Patient

Susan stefan

Oxford University Press

This chapter looks at how emergency services in general, and psychiatric emergency services specifically, operate within hospitals and mental health systems without ever being fully integrated into either. It examines the pressures exerted on emergency departments (EDs) and the structural incentives under which they operate, many of which create unintentional barriers to optimal treatment of people in psychiatric crisis. Finally, the chapter provides a statistical snapshot of EDs and psychiatric emergency services today, and evaluates some of the most popular prevalent assumptions about the uses and abuses of EDs: that poor people use EDs for non-urgent medical needs; that most users of ED services are uninsured; and that EDs are a focal point of liability, especially in the case of suicidal patients. The research in the field, including the detailed statistical reports produced annually by the National Center for Health Statistics, shows that the first two assumptions are incorrect; surveys of case law show a more complex and ambiguous picture about ED liability issues.

Keywords:   emergency services, emergency departments, patient care, psychiatric disabilities, psychiatric patients

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