Evaluating psychiatric readmissions in the emergency department of a large public hospital – 2018

Introduction: Hospital emergency departments (EDs) around the country are being challenged by an ever-increasing volume of patients seeking psychiatric services. This manuscript describes a study performed to identify internal and external factors contributing to repeated psychiatric patient admissions to the hospital main ED.

Methods: Data from ED visits of patients who were admitted to the Parkland Memorial Hospital ED (the community hospital for Dallas County, TX, USA) with a psychiatric complaint more than once within a 30-day period were evaluated (n=202). A 50-item readmission survey was used to collect information on demographic and clinical factors associated with 30-day readmission, as well as to identify quality improvement opportunities by assessing related moderating factors. An analysis of acute readmission visits (occurring within 3 days of previous discharge) was also performed.

Results: Patients readmitted to the ED commonly present with a combination of acute psychiatric symptoms, substance use (especially in the case of acute readmission), and violent or suicidal behavior. The vast majority of cases reviewed found that readmitted patients had difficulties coordinating care outside the ED. A number of moderating factors were identified and targeted for quality improvement including additional support for filling prescriptions, transportation, communication with family and outside providers, drug and alcohol treatment, intensive case management, and housing.

Conclusion: Many of the resources necessary to reduce psychiatric patient visits to hospital EDs are available within the community. There is no formal method of integrating and insuring the continuity of community services that may reduce the demand for psychiatric and related services in the ED. While agreements between community service providers may be challenging and require considerable vigilance to maintain equitable agreements between parties, this route of improving efficiency may be the only available method, given the current and projected patient care needs.

Morris DW, Ghose S, Williams E, Brown K, Khan F
Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment, 1 March 2018 Volume 2018:14