Increase in dual diagnosis patients admitted to emergency departments

Hospitals in the United States have increasingly come under the scanner for showing apathy and negligence toward psychiatric patients, including those with dual diagnosis, a condition in which people struggle with alcoholism and/or drug addiction in addition to a serious mental health disorder. For people with dual diagnosis and severe mental illnesses, the emergency department (ED) is not an ideal atmosphere for treatment and recovery. Chances of symptoms getting aggravated and requiring unnecessary hospitalization are heightened in the chaotic and disruptive environment of ED. For instance, people with a mental health condition like anxiety find the settings of an ED highly demotivating, which can result in the worsening of the existing symptoms.

A study presented at the American College of Emergency Physicians Scientific Assembly 2016 (ACEP16), patients with severe forms of mental illnesses like dual diagnosis, bipolar disorder and depression were two to four times more likely to stay in the ED for more than a day. The most common psychiatric ailments treated in ED settings were drug and alcohol abuse (41 percent), depression (23 percent), and anxiety (26 percent). Also, 10 percent of patients had multiple psychiatric diagnoses, whereas 9 percent had a dual diagnosis.

Chaos in emergency settings could aggravate dual diagnosis

Most emergency settings are full of distraction and stress. EDs provide care to patients who have come without a prior appointment. Considering the nature of emergency care, most emergency departments in the U.S. are overworked. A report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) showed that there are 130.4 million emergency visits in a year, of which 12.2 million are transferred from emergency to hospitals for admission. Considering the paucity of mental health resources, many hospitals are turning EDs into dumping grounds.

The outcome of staying in ED for long is not known. But it is being estimated that it could be detrimental to the health of the patient. In particular patients with a severe psychotic disorder or anxiety disorders could in all likelihood feel more disturbed and hence, can develop an inclination toward abusing illegal substances.

Road to recovery

Dual diagnosis is an extremely complex condition. In most instances, an overlapping of symptoms makes the diagnosis difficult. For example, distinguishing between schizophrenia and substance-induced psychoses can be complicated and instead of treating only one condition at a time, it is essential for physicians to adopt and integrative approach.

In case of dual diagnosis, it is necessary that both the comorbid disorders, mental health condition and substance abuse, are treated at the same time. An integrated approach involving psychiatrists, psychologists and social workers, all of who, have been cross-trained in both the disciplines, is required. Increased awareness about how drugs react, especially drugs aiding withdrawal, in patients with dual diagnosis is essential. In many instances, wrong diagnosis has been responsible for exacerbating the existing condition leading to greater problems.

If you or your loved one is addicted to any kind of drugs and is suffering from an underlying mental health problem, contact the Dual Diagnosis Helpline to know more about dual diagnosis rehab centers in your vicinity. Our certified representatives available at our 24/7 helpline number 855-981-6047 can guide you to the most reliable dual diagnosis facilities. You may also chat online with our experts to seek immediate assistance.

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