Tag Archives: Chronic care

Mental health and the ER

A report out of Texas indicates that nine patients in the Austin area accounted for 2678 emergency room visits at a cost of $3 million during the past six years. The causes were not always certain, though seven of the nine have a mental health diagnosis. One doctor at least thinks these diagnoses explain some of the ER visits.

Dr. Christopher Ziebell of University Medical Center at Brackenridge sees many people in the ER who aren’t having emergencies. With mental illness, he said, ‘a lot of anxiety manifests as chest pain.’

We know that mental health, when not treated properly, can be quite expensive. Mental health parity expert Steve Melek has testified before Congress and conducted research on how mental health can pair with other chronic conditions in highly-expensive comorbidities. The recent passage of mental health parity legislation may help mend fractures in care among the insured. But confronting this problem among the uninsured remains a thorny issue.