Schizophrenia Linked to Raised Risk of Injury While Hospitalized

Expert says docs may not take physical complaints seriously because of patient's mental illness

FRIDAY, July 23, 2010 (HealthDay News) -- People with schizophrenia are at increased risk for medical injuries while staying in the hospital, a new study shows.

Researchers examined discharge records from 3,605 U.S. hospitals between 2002 and 2007. The records included nearly 270,000 hospitalizations among people with schizophrenia and more than 37 million hospitalizations among general population patients.

The analysis revealed that people with schizophrenia were more likely to experience medical injuries -- such as postoperative respiratory failure, bed sores, sepsis and infection -- while hospitalized than other people.

For example, rates of postoperative respiratory failure were 24.2 per 1,000 hospitalizations for people with schizophrenia and 9.2 per 1,000 for other people. Rates of bedsores were 36.6 per 1,000 hospitalizations for those with schizophrenia and 27.7 per 1,000 for others, the study found.

The study findings are published in the July/August issue of General Hospital Psychiatry.

"These findings confirm that medical and surgical hospitalizations are an at-risk time for this group, and a national problem," study author Elizabeth Khaykin, of the Department of Mental Health at Bloomberg Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, said in a Center for the Advancement of Health news release.

"The combination of medical illness, medications that patients with schizophrenia already take and communication gaps put them at risk for the elevated patient safety events that we observed," she added.

The findings didn't surprise Chris Koyanagi, policy director at the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law in Washington, D.C.

"We hear anecdotal reports from individuals that their primary care providers and medical specialists do not always listen to their physical complaints seriously, but write them off as part of their mental illness," Koyanagi said in the news release.

More information

Mental Health America has more about schizophrenia.

SOURCE: Center for the Advancement of Health, news release, July 23, 2010
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