Prolonged Emergency Department Length of Stay for US Pediatric Mental Health Visits (2005–2015)
Source: Pediatrics: Official Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics
Resource Type: Documents and Publications
Focus Population: BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color), Youth, Youth of Transition Age
Topics: Crisis Response System, Psychiatric or Mental Health Stabilization
Children seeking care in the emergency department (ED) for mental health conditions are at risk for prolonged length of stay (LOS). This research article demonstrates that from 2005 to 2015, rates of prolonged LOS for pediatric mental health ED visits increased over time from 16.3% to 24.6% (LOS >6 hours) and 5.3% to 12.7% (LOS >12 hours), in contrast to non–mental health visits for which LOS remained stable. For mental health visits, Hispanic ethnicity was associated with an almost threefold odds of LOS >12 hours (odds ratio 2.74; 95% confidence interval 1.69–4.44); there was no difference in LOS by payer type. The authors argue that the substantial rise in prolonged LOS for mental health ED visits and disparity for Hispanic children suggest worsening and inequitable access to definitive pediatric mental health care. Policy makers and health systems should work to provide equitable and timely access to pediatric mental health care.