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Bill To Reduce Emergency Room Wait Times Advances

Medical assessments would be performed prior to laboratory and diagnostic testing for people undergoing mental health screenings under legislation that’s been approved by the Assembly Health and Senior Services Committee.

Emergency Room
Joe Raedle, Getty Images

Currently, testing is completed and submitted to screening services before the assessment.  The measure would amend the mental health screening law to make the change.  If involuntary commitment to treatment seems necessary, then the routine laboratory and diagnostic testing is to be performed.

Assemblywoman Shavonda Sumter introduced the measure to avoid such testing expenses if the person does not need commitment.  This would reduce hospital emergency room waiting times because staff wouldn’t have to wait for test results to be reviewed before the assessment is performed.

“Diagnostic and laboratory testing are costly medical assessments that should be required as needed,” said Sumter.  “Taking an opportunity to evaluate the patient before deciding on the necessary course of action would not only be more cost effective but hospital emergency rooms would be able to run more efficiently.”

The bill also would amend the definition of “mental health screener” to “certified screeners.”

The bill now heads to the Assembly Speaker for further consideration.

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