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Some psych patients wait days in hospital ERs

AP/Yahoo News, July 7, 2008

Experts say emergency rooms have become all-purpose dumping grounds for the mentally ill, with patients routinely marooned a day or more while staff try to find someone to care for them. A survey of hundreds of U.S. hospitals released by the American College of Emergency Physicians found that 79% reported that they routinely "boarded" psychiatric patients in their waiting rooms for at least some period of time because of the unavailability of immediate services. One-third reported that those stays averaged at least eight hours, and 6% said they had average waits of more than 24 hours for the next step in a patient's care.