“While not all who evidence elevated depression and PTSS [posttraumatic stress symptoms] will meet diagnosis for MDD or PTSD in the months following their injury, those with initially heightened symptoms may be identified as an at-risk group requiring follow-up care,” the study authors wrote.
For the study, a team of researchers from the University of North Texas assessed PTSS and depression symptoms in patients aged 18 or older who had been admitted to a trauma center for a period of at least 24 hours. Patient demographic information, hospitalization characteristics (including the number of complications and total hospital length of stay), and injury-related information (including the type and severity of injury and level of impaired consciousness) were obtained from the hospital trauma registry.
Of the 460 patients included in the analysis, 34.1% tested positive for depression, 31.3% tested positive for PTSS, and 18.3% tested positive for both depression and PTSS.
A comparison of hospital outcomes in patients who tested positive for depression and/or PTSS and those who did not revealed that PTSS and depression were significantly correlated with total hospital length of stay. Both depression-positive and PTSS-positive groups had an average increased hospital length of stay of two days—which the authors noted can add upward of $4,000 to $5,000 to the cost of post-trauma care.
“Being able to identify patients who present with these symptoms and are therefore at an increased risk of longer LOS [length of stay] may help health providers adjust care accordingly. Additionally, early identification may allow for the incorporation of appropriate interventions to increase psychiatric well-being, decrease LOS, and ultimately lead to better physical and mental health outcomes.”
For related information, see the Psychiatric News article “From Just Surviving, ICU Physicians Turn Focus to Survivorship.”