Tacoma judge considers care for mentally ill

SEATTLE — State officials are asking a judge in Tacoma on Tuesday for more time to consider how to deal with mentally ill patients held in hospital emergency rooms.

Pierce County Superior Court Judge Kathryn Nelson said last spring it was unconstitutional to hold involuntarily committed patients without treatment. She agreed to delay her ruling for six months after lawyers for the state said dangerous patients could be released on the streets because of a shortage of space at treatment centers.

The Seattle Times reports the so-called “psychiatric boarding” took place more than 4,300 times last year in Washington. In King County the average wait was three days.

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