Acknowledging that all hospitals treat patients with behavioral-health disorders, the American Hospital Association has issued a list of recommendations to help general, acute-care healthcare providers meet the growing demand for these services. In its report, Behavioral Health Challenges in the General Hospital: Practical Help for Hospital Leaders, the AHA said just 1,349 of 4,919 community general hospitalsor about 27%have an organized, inpatient psychiatric unit, and that emergency rooms make hospitals the safety net or provider of last resort for behavioral healthcare.
The AHA offered 16 recommendations to hospitals for providing care in the areas of community-needs assessment, behavioral-health planning, community collaboration, adequate financing, employer practices and advocacy.
Among its suggestions, the AHA said hospital leaders should encourage and participate in developing a communitywide or regional plan for persons with behavioral-health disorders and coordinate community agencies that address behavioral health needs; they should create a formal plan that defines the hospitals role and establishes relationships for behavioral health with other providers, practitioners and governmental and community agencies; and hospital leaders should communicate to the public and private payers the costs required to care for behavioral health patients, especially those with chronic and severe conditions, as well as the costs to society of not treating those patients. -- by Jessica Zigmond
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