There's a lack of psychiatric beds in Pennsylvania, and it's placing undue stress on hospital emergency departments, according to doctors across the state.
Meeting at the Pennsylvania Medical Society's annual House of Delegates in Hershey on October 26-27, more than 200 physicians voted to address the issue by endorsing the development of a voluntary shared bed tracking system for behavioral health and detoxification beds across the Commonwealth.
"The demand for behavioral health services on an acute basis has been skyrocketing at the same time as funding for community resources such as long-term behavioral health facilities has been shrinking," says Bruce A. MacLeod, MD, president of the Pennsylvania Medical Society and a practicing emergency medicine physician in Pittsburgh.
"These patients essentially have nowhere to go, and sometimes have to wait for hours or days to receive a psychiatric evaluation after showing up in an emergency department," says Dr. MacLeod. "If a tracking system could be developed to let us know where beds are available, then we could get these patients to the right treatment environment in a timely, patient focused fashion."
The issue was presented by the Pennsylvania Chapter of the American College of Emergency Physicians, Pennsylvania Psychiatric Society, and the Pennsylvania Medical Society Specialty Leadership Cabinet.
The organizations hope to gather key stakeholders, including the Pennsylvania State Department of Health and the Hospital & Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania, to develop a real-time voluntary reporting system of available psychiatric and substance use detoxification beds by region.
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