Care lapses can hurt psychiatric patients and hospital reputations. Soon-to-be public data on quality measures for these patients will no doubt reflect on general acute care hospitals overall as well as on their behavioral health units.
Not all acute care hospitals with inpatient psychiatric units have experienced patient deaths involving the controversial use of physical restraints.
But federal inspection reports of these critical inpatient service lines show that dozens of institutions have grappled with lapses, and many more show preventable injuries or very close calls. These incidents are emotionally charged, may unfairly paint the hospital as a cruel organization, and often generate front page headlines, or devastating videos.
This is not the way hospitals teams expect to be viewed in their communities.
That's why the upcoming public release of eight measures demonstrating quality of care specific to each of the nation's 1,800 hospital inpatient psychiatric units—a new federal 2% pay–for-reporting program including measures that reveal their use of restraints and seclusion—is certain to highlight behavioral health variability across the country. When these reports are out for public display, they'll no doubt show some facilities performing very well in complex psychiatric care, and others not so well.
The data will also no doubt reflect on the general acute care hospital's overall quality rating for non-psychiatric care as well, for the behavioral health units these hospitals run are usually in the same building, or just next door, not too far from the hospital's emergency room. Who hasn't known a family member or friend who needed intervention during a 72-hour hold?