Behavioral Health Patient Delays in Emergency Department: Results from the Maryland Hospital Association Behavioral Health Data Collection

The purpose of this study was to measure the number, duration, and reasons for delays in discharging behavioral health patients in 29 emergency departments in Maryland. Findings include:

Rate of emergency department delays

  • 42% of behavioral health patients treated during the study experienced a discharge or transfer delay. 
  • These delays accounted for 48% of the time behavioral health patients spent in the ER.
  • Patients under age 18 tended to have delays twice as long as those age 18 and over.

Top reasons for emergency department delays

  • 45% experienced delays waiting for a bed space in a placement setting 
  • 28% experienced a delay due to waiting for a placement setting to accept, process, or deny a referral



Thomsen, Darcie
Bloomgren, Barry


26 p.
Client Organization

Client Organization

Wilder Topic
Study ID

Project Information

Maryland Hospital Association

Maryland Hospital Association is the advocate for Maryland's hospitals, health systems, communities, and patients before legislative and regulatory bodies. MHA’s mission is to serve Maryland’s hospitals and health systems through collective action to shape policies, practices, financing and performance to advance health care and the health of all Marylanders.

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