The ER is no place for misbehaving kids.
That’s the word from a growing number of doctors, in response to a new John Hopkins study we read about. It shows that more than 800,000 kids are rushed to the ER each year, even though they don’t have broken bones or high fevers. Instead, they’re going to the ER for behavioral issues – like acting up in class, fighting with their parents, or running away from home. And the number of ER visits for so-called “psychiatric complaints” are up more than 20% in the past decade!
Experts say that’s a problem because most hospital ERs are not equipped to handle kids with behavioral issues. Plus, ERs are so overcrowded today that unruly kids end up taking time and resources away from people who really need urgent care.
In fact, statistics show that children with behavioral problems are twice as likely as other patients to wait more than four hours in the ER! Experts say it’s because doctors don’t know if a kid acting out in class, for example, poses a threat to themselves or others. So, they’ll often hold kids for observation, before sending them home.
Dr. Jacqueline Smith is a psychiatrist who says unruly behavior should be addressed, just NOT in the ER. Because an estimated 1-in-5 adolescents has a diagnosable mental health disorder today. And Dr. Smith says they’d be better served making an appointment with the school counselor - or a local psychiatrist - instead of being rushed to the ER!