Rights and Legal Issues

Persons Experiencing Psychiatric Crises: Information for Emergency Department Staff and Others Regarding Available Resources, Protocols, and Requirements

What happens when someone is "stuck" in the ED because a bed is not available, or for some other reason?

The crisis provider may convene a meeting of a "Rapid Response" team in situations where an individual has been assessed to need psychiatric hospitalization and one of the following occurs:

  1. There is not a psychiatric bed available for the individual; nor expected to be available within 8 hours.
  2. Eight hours has passed since the individual was assessed by the crisis provider or hospital mental health staff, regardless of status of referral calls
  3. An individual arrives after 8 p.m. and there has not been a positive disposition by the following morning at 8 a.m.

When it is determined that the Rapid Response procedure is needed the ED triage nurse contact's the hospital's Rapid Response Team members and the crisis worker contacts team participants external to the hospital to arrange for a meeting of the team as soon as possible to develop a plan for disposition of the individual.
The rapid response procedure describes the process in more detail.  The procedure was designed as a template which may be modified- by joint agreement of the hospital, crisis provider and the Adult Mental Health Services' regional mental health team leader- to meet the respective needs of the parties.