Friday, June 5, 2020

APA Releases Guidance on Admittance, Discharge of Psychiatric Patients During COVID-19

The APA Board of Trustees has issued guidance on how hospitals should manage patients in psychiatric inpatient settings during the COVID-19 pandemic. The guidance was developed “in response to efforts to either deny admittance to or prematurely release psychiatric patients under the guise of avoiding COVID-19 infection,” according to an APA press release.

“It is simply irresponsible to prematurely release patients with serious mental illness from psychiatric inpatient settings into communities ill prepared to treat them,” said APA President Jeffrey Geller, M.D., M.P.H. “Every patient should be in an environment where they receive treatment, care, and supervision appropriate to their needs. Inpatient psychiatric units and hospitals are not hotbeds of COVID-19 infection and in many instances are the safest alternative in the community.”

The guidance states the following:

  • Premature discharge of patients from psychiatric hospitals and inpatient psychiatric units is unreasonable as this practice exposes patients, families, and the community at large to the risks of harmful and adverse outcomes irrespective of communicable disease outbreaks.
  • During communicable disease outbreaks, referral of patients to any psychiatric setting should balance efforts to match patients’ mental health needs with the appropriate level of care while considering the potential risks of the communicable disease at each level of care.
  • Each level of psychiatric care during such outbreaks should provide safe and appropriate treatment, including adequate protection from the risk of infection from the communicable disease.

“The guidance provided by the APA Board is intended to help our psychiatrist members ensure that their patients who need inpatient treatment can continue to get that treatment during this pandemic,” said APA CEO and Medical Director Saul Levin, M.D., M.P.A. “We will continue to advocate for the best treatment for our patients while protecting them during this pandemic.”

How Has COVID-19 Impacted You and Your Practice Financially?

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