Mental Health Transfers from the Emergency Department: The Impact of State Emergency Hold Laws on Rates of Discharge, Transfer, and Hospitalization

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Date and Time: 
Thursday, April 20, 2017
12:00 pm – 1:00 pm
Sarah Axeen
Schaeffer Center, USC

One of the tools available to Emergency Department physicians for treating mental health problems is to request that a patient—who poses a danger to themselves or others—is confined in an inpatient, psychiatric setting for a short period. While there is a robust legal literature debating the merits of such laws, there is little or no discussion of their health impacts. This paper begins to explore the impact of such treatment and laws on health-related outcomes. We estimate state-level variation in the rates of routine discharge, admission or transfer to an inpatient or psychiatric setting, and discharge against medical advice for conditions likely to result in an emergency hold. In addition, we explore whether any characteristics of these laws appear to have an impact on those rates discharge, admission or transfer, or discharge against medical advice.