Subcommittee to Review How the Shortage of Beds for Inpatient Psychiatric Care Affects the Seriously Mentally Ill, Hospital Care, and Communities
The Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, chaired by Rep. Tim Murphy (R-PA), has scheduled a hearing for Wednesday, March 26, 2014, at 10:00 a.m. in room 2123 of the Rayburn House Office Building. The hearing is entitled “Where Have All the Patients Gone? Examining the Psychiatric Bed Shortage.” Witnesses to be announced.
In the fifty years since the passage of the Community Mental Health Centers Act, the number of dedicated psychiatric beds available at hospitals for psychiatric patients has decreased from 559,000 to 43,000, putting patients with serious mental illnesses at risk. Significantly diminished capacity for inpatient treatment contributed to a phenomenon known as “psychiatric boarding,” meaning patients are left to wait in hospital emergency departments until space becomes available for inpatient psychiatric care. This increases wait times in emergency rooms, sends ambulances to different hospitals, consumes significant hospital resources, and negatively impacts access for all patients requiring emergency care.
“Families are being torn apart because loved ones with serious mental illness cannot find the acute medical help they so desperately need due to a severe inpatient psychiatric bed shortage,” said Murphy. “At this hearing, witnesses will share their first-hand experiences on how this crisis has resulted in hundreds of thousands with mental illness in jails, on the streets, or most tragically, dying because appropriate care was not available.”
The Majority Memorandum, a witness list, and witness testimony will be available here as they are posted.