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Mental disorders often overlooked

doi: 10.1097/

The American Nurses Association calls for more school nurses…terminally ill patients who enter hospice live longer…raising bed rails doesn't prevent falls…and more.

Almost one in four hospital stays for adult patients involves a mental health disorder or substance abuse problem, according to data released by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). Older adults were disproportionately represented—although adults over age 80 comprise only 5% of the population, they represented nearly 21% of hospital stays for these conditions in 2004, the most recent year for which data are available. Dementia was the most common diagnosis in this group.

About 1.9 million of the 7.6 million stays were for patients who were admitted primarily for a mental health or substance abuse problem. The other 5.7 million stays involved patients admitted for other conditions who received an additional mental health or substance abuse diagnosis. For women, the most frequent admitting diagnosis was for mood disorders; for men, substance abuse.

The data signal the need for health care providers to make a better effort to recognize these conditions and intervene early, before hospitalization is required, says Terry Cline, PhD, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration administrator. “Too often … health care providers don't recognize the signs or treat [these] disorders with the same urgency as other medical conditions.”

For more information, visit the Web site of the AHRQ at

© 2007 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.