By Janet L. Hurley, MD
It’s taken a while for me to be ready to write about this. It is challenging as a physician to have things go wrong with a patient—badly wrong. Such situations are a major cause of physician burnout and job dissatisfaction. Some years ago I had such an event, and the effect was harrowing.
Suffice it to say we need more mental health resources in many Texas communities to provide needed services to patients and support to primary care physicians. As I speak to family physicians across the state, I learn the challenges my region experiences with insufficient mental health access are not unique. I am tired of patients being dismissed from mental health institutions back into the care of their primary care physician because there is no psychiatrist to see them for follow-up. I am tired of the insufficient payment structure that makes psychiatrists move to cash-only arrangements, limiting a patient’s ability to afford their care. I’m tired of having to treat refractory depression, advanced bipolar, and psychosis, simply because there are limited psychiatrists to do it. This simply needs to change. more