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Mentally ill flood ER as states cut services

Mentally ill flood ER as states cut services

Dec. 24, 2011   CHICAGO/NEW YORK
On a recent shift at a Chicago emergency department, Dr. William Sullivan treated a newly homeless patient who was threatening to kill himself.
"He had been homeless for about two weeks. He hadn't showered or eaten a lot. He asked if we had a meal tray," said Sullivan, a physician at the University of Illinois Medical Center at Chicago and a past president of the Illinois College of Emergency Physicians.
Sullivan said the man kept repeating that he wanted to kill himself. "It seemed almost as if he was interested in being admitted."

Across the country, doctors like Sullivan are facing a spike in psychiatric emergencies - attempted suicide, severe depression, psychosis - as states slash mental health services and the country's worst economic crisis since the Great Depression takes its toll.

This trend is taxing emergency rooms already overburdened by uninsured patients who wait until ailments become acute before seeking treatment.
These are people without a previous psychiatric history who are coming in and telling us they've lost their jobs, they've lost sometimes their homes, they can't provide for their families, and they are becoming severely depressed," said Dr. Felicia Smith, director of the acute psychiatric service at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.
http://news.yahoo.com/mentally-il...tates-cut-services-131133880.html


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