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Mental Health and Substance Abuse Common in the ER

New government statistics show that nearly 12 million visits made to U.S. hospital emergency departments in 2007 involved people with a mental disorder, substance abuse problem, or both.

This accounts for one in eight of the 95 million visits to emergency departments by adults that year.

Of these visits, about two thirds involved patients with a mental disorder, one quarter was for patients with a substance abuse problem and the rest involved patients dealing with both a mental disorder and substance abuse.

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality analysis also found that for the 12 million emergency department visits involving mental health and/or substance abuse problems:

  • Depression and other mood disorders accounted for 43 percent of the visits, while 26 percent were for anxiety disorders and 23 percent involved alcohol-related problems.
  • Mental health or substance abuse-related visits were two and a half times more likely to result in hospital admission than visits not involving mental disorders or substance abuse. Nearly 41 percent of mental disorder or substance abuse-related visits resulted in hospitalization.
  • Medicare was billed for 30 percent of all mental health or substance abuse emergency department visits; private insurance was billed for 26 percent; the uninsured for 21 percent; and Medicaid 20 percent.

Source: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality

Mental Health and Substance Abuse Common in the ER

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2018). Mental Health and Substance Abuse Common in the ER. Psych Central. Retrieved on February 18, 2019, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Aug 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Aug 2018
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