In response to Sunday’s story in The Times, “Panel studying violence against emergency room workers:” We will never be able to properly address emergency department violence in America until we take a hard look at our ongoing mental health care crisis. This has led to violence in some cases by frustrated and distressed psychiatric patients who are held in emergency departments for long periods of time because there are very few options for long-term care.
In a recent poll by the American College of Emergency Physicians, an overwhelming 84 percent of ER docs report that psychiatric patients are being held or boarded in their emergency department sometimes for several days, with 9 in 10 saying that this practice has led to violent behavior, distracted staff or bed shortages, all of which may harm patients.
Protecting emergency patients and staff from violent acts is fundamental to ensuring quality patient care.
Dr. Alex Rosenau
president, American College of Emergency Physicians, Washington, D.C.