Connecting Law Enforcement and Emergency Department Providers to Improve Access to Mental Health Services [2020]

An electronic survey was sent to local law enforcement agencies and hospital emergency department (ED) staff to assess communication processes when law enforcement brings individuals in mental health crisis to the ED. Law enforcement and ED staff view HIPAA/privacy concerns as barriers to communication. Law enforcement believed that communication needs to be improved, whereas ED staff believed they communicated well with law enforcement. Although both groups noted a need for more mental health services in the community, law enforcement noted they wanted more communication as to the disposition of the individuals they bring to the ED. There are areas for improvement in communication between law enforcement and ED staff when receiving a patient in mental health crisis. Psychiatric–mental health nurses are an integral part in transitioning individuals in mental health crisis in the ED to the appropriate level of care. Effective communication between ED staff and law enforcement will benefit all involved.

Kari Hickey, PhD, RN; Carol Walther, PhD; John King, MS; Hunter Layne, BS; Carly Besler, MA; Victoria Andrzejewski; Jennifer Gijada, BA
Journal of Psychosocial Nursing and Mental Health Services. 2020;58(8)