KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Patients With Mental Health Issues Overwhelm ERs

Patients suffering from schizophrenia, psychotic tendencies and suicidal behaviors are burdening hospital ERs, reports Modern Healthcare.

Modern Healthcare: Out Of The ER
Borderline personality disorder. Schizophrenia. Psychotic tendencies. Suicidal behaviors. Typically found in the caseload of an inpatient psychiatric facility, these conditions have become prevalent in another area of the U.S. healthcare system: the acute-care hospital emergency department. In 2006, an Institute of Medicine report concluded hospital emergency rooms are overwhelmed, citing increases in lengths of stay for patients seeking care, crowding of existing ER space and boarding of patients who need an inpatient bed as the reasons (Zigmond, 5/26).

Meanwhile, Kaiser Health News columnist Michelle Andrews explores how the diagnosis for addiction could change as a result of revisions to the diagnostic manual for mental illnesses.

Kaiser Health News: Insuring Your Health: Proposed Changes To Psychiatric Manual Could Impact Addiction Diagnosis
"What's in a name? That's a question that experts are wrestling with as they prepare to revise the diagnostic manual that spells out the criteria for addiction and other substance-use problems. ... The new guidelines would do away with the diagnostic categories of "substance abuse," which generally is defined by such short-term problems as driving drunk, and "substance dependence," which is chronic and marked by tolerance or withdrawal, in favor of a combined "substance use and addictive disorders" category (Andrews, 5/29).

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