Mental Health

Hospital emergency rooms in Maryland struggle with flood of patients with mental health, substance-use issues

Hospital emergency rooms in Maryland struggle with flood of patients with mental health, substance-use issues

Twelve-year-old Kristine Williams has logged a lot of time in the emergency room since she was diagnosed with mental health conditions about four years ago. But she has not been treated during any of her visits.

Mostly, the Elkton girl sits and waits — for up to 24 hours a visit — as hospital staff search for appropriate care elsewhere.

Emergency room physicians and hospital officials in Maryland say they have become overwhelmed with such patients in need of treatment for mental health or substance use problems.

Emergency room visits in Maryland fell 8 percent from 2013 to 2016, but the number of patients with behavioral health problems jumped 18.5 percent. Such cases...

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