Extent of ‘psychiatric boarding’ problem unknown

SEATTLE — Washington hospitals support a Supreme Court decision to consider a 120-day delay of a ban on sending psychiatric patients to emergency rooms but a spokeswoman says no one knows the extent of the problem that everyone is trying to solve.

Mary Kay Clunies-Ross says the actual number of “psychiatric boarded” patients is not known because no one collects that data.

When the state told the high court that 200 patients were currently held, it was a “best guess,” according to Victoria Roberts with the state behavioral health agency.

The Supreme Court ruled on August 7 that psychiatric boarding can’t be used to deal with over-crowded treatment facilities. It gave the state until Wednesday to move those patients to appropriate centers. The attorney general’s office asked for time and the court said Monday it would consider that request next week.

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