OBJECTIVE: The study examined the characteristics of frequent users of inpatient treatment under public-sector managed care in Massachusetts between 1992 and 1995 and explored whether their pattern of inpatient utilization affected their overall use of hospital days.
METHODS: Individuals with five or more admissions in any of four fiscal years (1992 to 1995) were identified using the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health client tracking system. The demographic and clinical characteristics of these patients and the types of hospitals they used were compared with those of all patients in case management programs who had a hospital admission but who did not meet study criteria for multiple admissions.
RESULTS: Compared with other patients, patients with multiple admissions were more likely to be young Caucasian females with personality disorder and a history of substance abuse but not a current substance use disorder. They tended to be lower functioning as measured by the Georgia Role Functioning Scale (GRFS) and to have higher levels of distress, as measured by the global personal distress portion of the GRFS. They made up 6 to 8 percent of all clients with a psychiatric admission who were enrolled in a case management program, but they accounted for 21 to 27 percent of all admissions in the four fiscal years. Patients with multiple admissions had significantly longer lengths of stay when admitted to a hospital where they had not been previously admitted in the past 12 months.
CONCLUSIONS: States setting up public-sector managed care or revising existing public-sector managed care contracts should ensure that subpopulations of persons at high risk for multiple admissions receive special attention. They should also create networks of inpatient providers to enable frequent users of acute care facilities to return to the same facility that previously discharged them.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/william_h_fisher/10/