Study: 1 In 5 MN Hospital Stays For Mental Health Issues Are Avoidable

A research institute from St. Paul found that 19 percent of all mental health bed days spent in some care centers across Minnesota were “potentially avoidable.”

For the 20 percent of Minnesotans living with a mental illness, many rely on stays at mental health beds at hospitals to receive treatment. But a recent study by Wilder Research found that nearly one in five health bed days are “potentially avoidable” and would be better off treated in a different care facility.
The “first-of-its-kind” study monitored admittance records to inpatient psychiatric units at 20 participating hospitals and care centers around the state, which included Mayo Clinic and Allina Health locations. Between March 15 and April 30 of this year, more than 32,500 mental health bed days were recorded, with upwards of 6,000 of those stays being considered “potentially avoidable.”
“Behind these numbers are patients and families who are not getting the care they need in the right place at the right time,” said Dr. Rahul Koranne, chief medical officer of the Minnesota Hospital Association. “On any given day, 134 patients across these 20 hospitals could have been more appropriately served in a different care setting.”
Nearly two-thirds of the “potential avoidable” stays were due to lack of space in a state-run mental health hospital, nursing or group home, residential treatment center, or chemical dependency treatment facility.
Another portion of the “potentially avoidable” stays were due to delays from a social service or government agency involved with a patient’s affairs.
“Bottlenecks exist throughout the mental health care delivery system,” Koranne said, “resulting in patients remaining in community hospitals for extended periods of time—which in turn means that hospital beds are unavailable to others in the community experiencing mental health crises.”