Mental patients get stuck in ERs – Local/State –

RALEIGH — Across North Carolina, mental patients are routinely languishing for days in emergency rooms ill-equipped to care for them, waiting for a bed to open at one of four state-run psychiatric hospitals.

Often, they pass the time handcuffed or sedated. Law-enforcement officers assigned to guard patients whose illness makes them prone to violent outbursts have occasionally resorted to using Tasers to shock them into submission.

Lanier Cansler, the state’s secretary of health and human services, plans to ease the strain by paying private hospitals with taxpayer money to admit and treat more mental patients, especially those who don’t qualify for Medicaid. Story continues here ➤