More than 12% of emergency department (ED) visits were due to a mental health disorder or substance abuse, according to new data released by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), an arm of HHS, says almost 12 million emergency room visits fell into one of these two categories, or both, in 2007, the most recent year statistics are available.
Depression and other mood disorders made up 43% within this group, 26% were for anxiety disorders, and 23% were alcohol related. Other mental health related disorders were: drug disorders (17.6 percent); schizophrenia and other psychoses (9.9 percent); and intentional self-harm (6.6 percent).
Also, patients were reported to the ED with these problems were 2-1/2 times more likely to be admitted to the hospital compared with the general ER population.
The most common payers involved were Medicare (30.1%); private insurance (25.7%); uninsured (20.6%) and Medicaid (19.8%).
AHRQ researchers conclude: “Not only is this of concern to members of the mental health community, but also to the members of the emergency medicine community who are concerned that ED overcrowding results in decreased quality of care and increased likelihood of medical error.”
For the full PDF of the report, released in July, click here.