Measure to Promote Cost Effective Care and Reduce Waiting Times in Emergency Rooms Approved by Assembly

Legislation to require medical assessments to be performed prior to laboratory and diagnostic testing of persons undergoing mental health screenings was approved by the Assembly Health and Senior Services Committee.

Currently, testing is completed and submitted to screening services before the assessment. This bill, sponsored by Assemblywoman Shavonda E. Sumter, would amend the mental health screening law to require the assessment of the patient be performed prior to the performance of routine laboratory and diagnostic testing. If involuntary commitment to treatment seems necessary, then the routine laboratory and diagnostic testing is to be performed.

Sumter introduced the legislation to avoid such testing expenses if the person does not need commitment, and to reduce hospital emergency room waiting times because staff would not 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 Assemblywoman 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.”

In addition, the bill would amend the definition of “mental health screener” to refer to regulations adopted by the Department of Human Services concerning “certified screeners.”

The assessment as outlined in the bill is a screening service that would determine what mental health services are appropriate for the person and where those services may be provided in the least restrictive environment.

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

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