Ontario’s Mental Health Patients Not Getting Follow-Up Care They Need: Study

By Sharon Lem,Toronto Sun
posted: Wednesday, August 3, 2011

TORONTO – A quarter of Ontarians hospitalized for depression are falling through the cracks, the results of a study show.

The study — published in the Canadian Journal of Pscyhiatry — found that one-third of patients hospitalized for depression did not receive follow-up care
and ended up back in the emergency room or readmitted within a month of being discharged.

The 2005 data shows while 63% of people who were hospitalized saw a physician again within a month of leaving hospital, another 25% did not, resulting in increased visits to the ER or repeat hospital stays.

“We’ve known all along mental health wasn’t as good as we would like, but we were surprised at how large the problem was with 25% of the 13,000 tracked requiring revisits or readmission,” said Dr. Elizabeth Lin, a research scientist at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health.

The study found men, older people and those who live in rural communities were more likely to fall into this group.

The study tracked 13,000 hospitalizations for depression across Ontario and discovered 5,000 people did not receive appropriate follow-up care.

Comparatively, the study looked at follow-up care received in Ontario by those who had been hospitalized for heart attacks or heart failure and found 99%
of these patients had a follow-up visit to a physician’s office within 30 days of leaving the hospital.

Lin says the comparison tells her there is room for better integration of care and transition planning for people with mental illness.

“Obviously you can never get to a perfect 100%, but it would save a lot of money, free up more beds for people who need it since finding a psychiatric bed is so difficult,” Lin said, adding that coordination of services is especially crucial to underserviced areas.

It’s not always a matter of needing more services but rather improving the way hospitals, general practitioners, family health teams and other community
partners work together in a more co-ordinated fashion with a province-wide effort, she said.

“If we managed to get all the readmissions and repeat ER visits to disappear and co-ordinate the system of care better, it’s estimated the health care system would save $8 million and 14,000 hospital days and free up more beds, so people would not fall through the cracks and more people in desperate straights wouldn’t have to be that way,” Lin said.

Reproduced from http://www.torontosun.com/2011/08/03/ontarios-mental-health-patients-not-getting-follow-up-care-they-need-study