The emergency worker remembers when the "young and proud" Aboriginal man in his 20s was brought into the emergency department by his father. He was agitated and upset, He said he wanted to kill himself but he would not engage with us any further."
The man was seen by the psychiatry team and admitted as an involuntary patient. There were no beds available, and I was to stay in the ED until one became available. On his second day in the ED, I managed to escape.
It is one of a dozen portraits of a mental health system to meet the needs of people presenting to emergency departments in mental health crises, published in a new report today by the Australasian College for Emergency Medicine (ACEM).
According to the report, more than 250,000 Australians visit the emergency department each year seeking help for mental and behavioral conditions. For all emergency departments presentations, 90%. For people with mental health problems, this figure was closer to 11.5 hours – and as high as 16.5 hours in one state.
Percent of people left the ED within seven hours. For people with mental health problems, this figure was closer to 11.5 hours – and as high as 16.5 hours in one state. These delays undermine patients' health and recovery, place considerable stress and strain on emergency department teams, and waste limited health resources.
The report found that in most jurisdictions mental health patients were twice as likely as non-mental health patients to leave the before their treatment being completed: almost 7,000 people who sought help for mental health problems at an emergency department in 2016-2017 left before finishing treatment.
"Anybody who's worked in an ED long enough that if a patient has left the ED, and they've killed themselves a very short time later. Well, you only have to go through that one in your career to realize that there's a better solution to what we're doing now, "Dr. Judkins said. Realize that there's a better solution to what we're doing now, "
The report also found Indigenous Australians are over-represented when it comes to mental health presentations to the emergency department: they comprise 11% of presentations, but makeup around 3% of the Australian population.
"We've got a common goal, and we can provide a much better level of care." Next week, 150 emergency doctors, psychiatrists, and clinicians will meet in Melbourne to discuss possible solutions. "It's taken a long time to get to this crisis point, and we hope that bringing these people together. We can start to develop a cohesive plan to start fixing this problem.