Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Study Finds 10 Percent of Young Hospital Patients Have Psychiatric Diagnoses

Almost 1 in 10 hospitalizations of children and adolescents aged 3 to 20 are due to a mental illness, according to study released online March 17 in the journal Pediatrics. About 9.6% of young patients in the Kids’ Inpatient Database (KID), covering 4,121 general hospitals in 44 states in 2009, had a primary mental health diagnosis, as did 3.3% of inpatients in a smaller sample of free-standing children’s hospitals, said Naomi Bardach, M.D., an assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine, and colleagues. The study did not cover freestanding psychiatric hospitals.

Between 17% and 22% of these patients had a primary or comorbid mental health diagnosis, and all the hospital stays added up to $3.5 billion in aggregate charges to the health care system. The most common diagnoses at the general hospitals were depression (44.1%), bipolar disorder (18.1%), and psychosis (12.1%). Substance abuse was a common comorbidity. In the freestanding hospitals, depression (42.2%), externalizing disorder (10.8%), and bipolar disorder (10.6%) were the most common psychiatric diagnoses.

The authors concluded that their study “supports the creation of diagnosis-specific quality measures for all hospitals that admit children.”

For the latest information about the treatment of mental illness in children and adolescents, see Clinical Manual of Child and Adolescent Psychopharmacology, Second Edition and Cognitive-Behavior Therapy for Children and Adolescents, both from American Psychiatric Publishing.

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