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ISP Conference on Mental Health Services features findings of a study suggesting the risks of shortening the length of stay for children and adolescents admitted to psychiatric hospitals.


WASHINGTON, Oct. 6, 2016 /ChildAdvocate/ — The ISP Conference on Mental Health Services provides a opportunity to learn, share, and network with researchers and leaders from around the world.  The Conference takes place at The Washington Hilton from October 6-9, 2016.   Today the conference features a study from Penn State University of College of Medicine that looks at whether shorter lengths of stay in psychiatric inpatient programs are associated with higher risks of readmissions for children and adolescents.  Other factors are also analyzed.  While psychiatric admissions for children and adolescent once were more than 30 days, changes in care and insurance restrictions have dropped that to just days.  While admissions of 14 days are now considered appropriate for many patients, approval can limit treatment to 24 hours in some cases.  The authors attempted to determine if this improved or compromised care.  Readmission rates of children having to return to the hospital are one measure as to the success of the program and more readmissions suggest that the care is not sufficient.  This study shows that the trend demonstrates that decreased length of stay is significantly associated with increased readmission rates when looking at 12 month increments.  The study included 3,896 children and adolescents admitted to inpatient psychiatric units at a large, multidisciplinary academic medical center during major changes in inpatient care from 1991-2003.  The average age was 10.7 years.  The findings are consistent with clinical impressions that readmissions increased as a direct result of the trend towards shortened lengths of stay imposed by insurance coverage; that is, patients are not determined to be dangerous, and they are not stabilized by discharge which contributes to a higher overall readmission rate.  These patients appear clinically less stable at discharge as they have a shorter time in treatment.  Inpatient programs need to look at treatment programs and length of stay to determine the best approaches for quality care as shorter stays may erode treatment quality and cause a patient’s instability that leads to a higher incidence of readmission.  These findings will be presented today by lead author Dr. Christopher Petersen from  Penn State Hershey.

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