Md. Hospitals Launch Registry to Find Beds for Psychiatric Patients

BALTIMORE — In an effort to track more information about the availability of psychiatric beds at participating facilities, some Maryland hospitals have created an online registry aimed to improve patient care and ease overcrowding in emergency rooms.

Currently, under federal law, a hospital is required to find a bed for a patient who shows up at an emergency room with a severe and immediate medical need. However, if a hospital lacks a psychiatric unit and a patient suffers from severe psychosis or threatens suicide, emergency room personnel must contact other hospitals to find a vacancy. The time-consuming process could involve more than 30 calls, the Baltimore Sun reports.

The registry, which launched in November, is expected to help psychiatric units fill their beds and allow health officials to measure how well the new resources meet patient demand. Additionally, those in favor of the new registry say it will free emergency room employees to focus on trauma and triage.

Some officials are wary of the new program, stating that it will be more burdensome for staffers and that it will help federal regulators spot patient placement violations.

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