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1 million hours of psychiatrist time wasted yearly on phone approval for hospitalization
Date:4/23/2013

dmissions among people with private insurance nationwide each year, 38 minutes of phone time to obtain authorization translates into about 1 million hours of wasted psychiatrist time.

Lead author Dr. Amy Funkenstein, a child psychiatry fellow at Brown University, led the study while she was a psychiatric resident at CHA and Harvard Medical School. She said: "Society pays for inadequate psychiatric care; more than half of all prison inmates and a third of all homeless people are mentally ill. Massachusetts is considered a model for health reform, yet we found that seriously ill patients routinely spent hours stranded in the ED due to insurance bureaucracy. The hours psychiatrists spend obtaining those authorizations could be far better spent treating our patients."

Senior author Dr. J. Wesley Boyd, attending psychiatrist at CHA and assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, commented: "Private insurers are obstructing care by requiring authorizations before a qualified psychiatrist can hospitalize a dangerously ill patient. With doctors, nurses and emergency departments already overburdened, adding a time consuming bureaucratic task that doesn't help patients is unconscionable.

"Insurers hope that clinicians will be so hassled by authorization procedures that they won't seek admission for their patients, saving insurance companies money," he said. "Placing profits ahead of the health of patients when mental illness makes them vulnerable is immoral. A single-payer Medicare-for-all health care system would represent a great leap forward for patients and providers alike."


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Contact: Mark Almberg
mark@pnhp.org
312-782-6006
Physicians for a National Health Program
Source:Eurekalert

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