New strategies in demand for assisting autistic patients in the hectic ER: 5 things to know

The emergency room is commonly associated with high stress. The long waits combined with the urgent bustle of patients and healthcare professionals can weigh heavy on any patient. But for those with autism, the stress can push patients into a state of duress that destabilizes their ability to receive care.

A small but expanding number of ERs nationwide are implementing new strategies to improve the quality and efficiency of care they provide to autistic patients, according to CNN. Here are five things to know about these new ER strategies.

1. This effort toward change began in children's hospitals in New Jersey and Washington D.C., but has since spread to facilities in New York, Pennsylvania, Indiana, Florida and South Carolina. At some of these institutions, once changes have been made in the ER, similar accommodations are taken up in other hospital departments.

2. Accommodations can range from increased training for healthcare workers to cosmetic adjustments like offering patients soothing objects like toys or an iPad.

3. Certain facilities have revamped treatment protocols. At Nemours Children's Hospital, if a patient is autistic he or she will be treated in a separate area reserved for autistic patients. There, patients can communicate with physicians in the mode they find most comfortable if verbalization is something they'd like to avoid. Professionals will work with written feelings or drawings expressive of the patient's physical and emotional state.

4. These new strategies have become increasingly important because of the rise in demand for specialized care for autistic patients. According to the CDC, 1 in 45 children were diagnosed with autism in 2014. In 2000 it was 1 in 150.

5. It's in the hospital's best interest to improve care for its autistic patients, some experts say. In the CNN piece, Edward C. Jauch, MD, director of emergency medicine at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, said, "People on the [autism] spectrum utilize the healthcare system more often. They disproportionately are using our services...from a cost standpoint alone it makes sense to figure out how to care for them effectively and efficiently."

More articles on quality: 
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5 reasons hospitals should utilize ancillary providers to lower readmissions for post-acute care COPD patients. 
CMS issues safety warning to Virginia hospital after patient receives wrong medication

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