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Psychosomatics. 2002 Jan-Feb;43(1):24-30.

Medical comorbidity in psychiatric inpatients: relation to clinical outcomes and hospital length of stay.

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  • 1Neuropsychiatry Service, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, The Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, 600 North Wolfe Street, Osler 320, Baltimore, MD 21287, USA.


Medical comorbidity is common in psychiatric inpatients and may be associated with substantial impairment and mortality. Few studies have examined the relation between this comorbidity and psychiatric outcomes. A series of 950 admissions to the Johns Hopkins Hospital Phipps Psychiatric Service were rated by attending psychiatrists at admission and discharge on symptom and functional measures. A subset was also evaluated on the General Medical Health Rating, a valid and reliable measure of seriousness of medical comorbidity. Attending psychiatrists were also asked at discharge whether medical comorbidity had been a focus of care during the hospitalization; medical comorbidity had been a focus of care in about 20% of the patients. Serious active medical comorbidity was present in 15% of patients on admission and 12% at discharge. Medical comorbidity was associated with a 10%-15% increase in psychiatric symptoms and functional impairment at discharge, even after adjustment for admission clinical status. In addition, when comorbidity had been a focus of care during the hospitalization, length of stay was prolonged by 3.25 days on average. Medical comorbidity has measurable effects on the psychiatric outcomes of psychiatric inpatients and in some cases prolongs hospital stay. Psychiatrists should redouble their efforts to detect and treat this comorbidity and should consider whether special inpatient units might be needed to care for psychiatric patients with complex medical comorbidity.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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