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Community Hospital Stays Often Due to Mental Health

Substance abuse also accounted for many hospital stays in 2004

THURSDAY, April 12 (HealthDay News) -- About one-fourth of community hospital patients who are admitted have substance abuse or a mental health problems such as depression or schizophrenia, according to an analysis of 2004 data by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

Overall, 7.6 million of 32 million hospital stays were for patients who had mental health or substance abuse problems. Of the 7.6 million stays, 1.9 million were due directly to substance abuse or mental health, while the remaining 5.7 million patients were found to have these problems after being admitted for another condition. For example, substance abuse or mental health problems were present in 240,000 women who were hospitalized for childbirth or pregnancy.

The government paid a large portion of the costs. About half of the stays were covered by Medicare and 18 percent covered by Medicaid. Eight percent of patients lacked insurance, and roughly one-third of uninsured stays were due to substance abuse or mental health problems. Private insurers covered the balance.

"Community hospitals play an important role in the treatment of people with mental health and substance abuse disorders," said AHRQ director Carolyn M. Clancy, M.D., in a statement. "This report gives health care policymakers an in-depth look at the impact of mental health and substance abuse care on the health care system."

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