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Gen Hosp Psychiatry. 1997 Mar;19(2):112-8.

The treatment of dangerous patients in managed care. Psychiatric hospital utilization and outcome.

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Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Northwestern University Medical School, Chicago, IL 60611-3008, USA.


The legal criteria for civil commitment dictates that individuals must be mentally ill, and either a danger to themselves, a danger to others, or substantially impaired in their ability to provide for their basic needs. These criteria, which have been adopted as medical necessity criteria by managed care programs, may result in a change in the clinical mix of the psychiatric inpatient population. The present study assesses the incidence of dangerousness among psychiatric inpatients and compares dangerous and nondangerous patients in terms of characteristics and treatment outcomes. The results indicate that for a large regional managed care program, 30% of psychiatric inpatients have a history of dangerousness in the past year. Patients who are rated as dangerous to others during admission have higher rates of complications for treatment and psychiatric disorders such as residential and vocational instability, family disruption, and higher premorbid dysfunction. They are also more likely to engage in disruptive and aggressive behavior during their hospital stays. Despite the higher incidence of acute and long-term dysfunction for dangerous patients, their hospitalization length of stay was comparable to that of patients not rated as dangerous.

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