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Emergency Room Waits for Psychiatric Patients: Safe or Profitable?

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(BOSTON) -- Psychiatric patients waited an average of 11.5 hours to be admitted into the emergency room of a hospital, according to a recent study published by Annals of Emergency Medicine.
 
Study author Anthony Weiss of Partners Healthcare in Massachusetts says that most hospitals don’t even have mental health wards anymore.

"The reimbursement for mental health care within the country is among the lowest across the different disease states, and so it's not, in some cases, economically viable to support these types of units," Weiss said.
 
HealthOne, a hospital network in Denver, is taking a different approach by adding a psychiatric unit to provide more help for mental health patients, according to "Shots," an NPR health blog. They know that emergency rooms can often get backed up, especially when there are patients in the ER for particularly long periods of time.

Even though the mental health ward is the first of Colorado’s in years, it may still be a potential loss of money. The hospital expects that the loss will be gained back through a speedier flow in the emergency room where most of the hospital’s money is made, "Shots" reports.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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