What’s in it for hospitals? Lowered costs and better care, says
Slone. Take suicidal patients. Patients who have made suicidal
gestures typically wind up in intensive care units or in beds with
24-hour “sitters” — both extremely expensive options. Bringing
in Emergent Care Psychologists isn’t just less expensive. Meeting
patients’ psychological needs also reduces what Slone calls
“noise” on the wards — the agitation, combativeness and other
behavior that make it difficult for nurses and other staff to do
their jobs and other patients to rest and recover.
Slone, Futch and their colleagues also tackle such issues as
anxiety, depression or grief in hospitalized patients. A physician
in the intensive care unit, for example, might request a consult
on how to help a patient who panics every time the physician
tries to wean him off a ventilator. Slone might teach breathing
techniques or provide cognitive-behavioral interventions to
lessen the patient’s anxiety.
And while Florida psychologists can’t order, prescribe or
dispense medication, Slone also consults with physicians and
other prescribers about psychotropic medications.
“It could be that a patient has been on a psychiatric
medication in the past, and the physician would like a mental
health professional to review that medication and see if the
patient needs to get back on it or continue on a medication,”
Drs. Sherman C. Slone, Emily J. Futch and Lauren Berrios of
Emergent Care Psychologists.