Pittsburgh doc wants to solve psychiatric bed shortage

Written by Matt Paul and Radio Pennsylvania | Nov 3, 2013 3:57 AM
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(Pittsburgh) -- Patients in need of psychiatric care often wind up in emergency rooms because they have nowhere else to go. But a lack of psychiatric beds in the Commonwealth can lead to long delays in treatment.

Now a group of Pennsylvania doctors thinks it has a solution.

Chief of Emergency Services at UPMC Mercy in Pittsburgh, Michael Turturro, helped author a plan that calls for a voluntary bed tracking system. Modeled after what’s already being implemented in Maryland, Dr. Turturro says it would allow emergency departments to scan the state for open psychiatric beds.

“This is one small piece of what should be a more global approach to making sure that patients who have these needs get them addressed in a more timely manner,” he says. “This will help some, but it’s not going to completely solve the problem.”

Dr. Turturro says the Pennsylvania Medical Society and state Health Department plan to examine the idea. It’s not clear whether the Commonwealth has the infrastructure to set up such a database.

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