A terrific editorial right on point. The author is Susan Stefan, who is director of the National Emergency Department Project at the Center for Public Representation.
Read it all, but here’s a good slice:
By Susan Stefan | November 7, 2007
HOSPITAL emergency departments are among the least appropriate and most expensive places in Massachusetts for patients in psychiatric crisis. Yet these departments are where police, families, group homes, nursing homes, and others routinely take people who are agitated, panicked, or threatening to hurt themselves. Emergency departments are also where people go at the end of the month when their medications run out, when their primary physicians can’t see them for two weeks, when they are frightened or desperate and have nowhere to turn after 5 p.m. and their therapist’s answering machine tells them to go to the emergency room.
It’s very well written, and worth the time.
It also helps to explain why a lot of us in Emergency Medicine dislike the idea that we’re the “Safety Net” for all of societies’ problems. We’re not trained and certainly not equipped to take care of every conceivable problem.