Texas Senate Takes Steps To Expedite Access To Voluntary Inpatient Psychiatric Care

Texas Hospitals Testify in Support



Aisha Ainsworth, 512/465-1511

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(AUSTIN, Texas – March 19, 2019) Streamlining the process for psychiatric hospitals to admit patients seeking voluntary inpatient mental health treatment and expediting access to and continuity of care is the focus of a bill that will be heard today in the Texas Senate Health & Human Services Committee, chaired by Sen. Lois Kolkhorst (R-Brenham). Craig Franke, M.D., medical director for Texas NeuroRehab Center in Austin, will testify in support of Senate Bill 1238, by Sen. Nathan Johnson (D-Dallas), which would reduce the amount of time an individual waits to receive voluntary inpatient psychiatric treatment by allowing an individual to be admitted to a psychiatric hospital prior to reviving the required examination. 

Under current state law, an individual seeking voluntary inpatient mental health treatment must receive a psychiatric and physical examination up to 72 hours before he or she can be admitted to a psychiatric hospital for treatment.

“Psychiatrists are in short supply in Texas and are not always available on nights and weekends. If a psychiatrist is not available when the individual first presents to the hospital for treatment, he or she must wait for the physician to arrive, delaying access to a dedicated hospital bed,” said Ted Shaw, THA president/CEO. “Expanding the window physicians have to conduct the exam means patients can be admitted to the hospital sooner, expediting access to care.”

In addition to the state-required physician exam prior to admission, the federal government also requires a psychiatric and physical exam after the individual is admitted. The federal exam is comprehensive and covers the same elements required by the state-mandated exam. 

SB 1238 proposes allowing a physician to conduct the exam up to 72 hours before or 24 hours after an individual is admitted to the hospital. Allowing the option of conducting the exam up to 24 hours after admission would satisfy state and federal physician exam requirements for inpatient mental health treatment and improves access to care. 


About THA
Founded in 1930, the Texas Hospital Association is the leadership organization and principal advocate for the state’s hospitals and health care systems. Based in Austin, THA enhances its members’ abilities to improve accessibility, quality and cost-effectiveness of health care for all Texans. One of the largest hospital associations in the country, THA represents 452 of the state’s non-federal general and specialty hospitals and health care systems, which employ some 400,000 health care professionals statewide. Learn more about THA at www.tha.org or follow THA on Twitter at http://twitter.com/texashospitals.