August 24, 2009

More leaving hospitals against advice

There was a 39 percent increase from 1997 to 2007 in U.S. patients leaving hospitals against doctors' advice, officials of a U.S. agency said.

The report by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, part of the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services, said the number of cases rose from 264,000 in 1997 to 368,000 in 2007.

The top five reasons for the hospitalization were: 25,600 had chest pain with no determined cause; 25,300 had alcohol-related disorders; 21,000 had substance-related disorders; 13,000 had depression or other mood disorders; and 12,500 had diabetes with complications.

The report said:

-- 27 percent of the patients who left against medical advice were on Medicaid or Medicare.

-- Men were roughly 1.5 times more likely than women to leave.

-- Patients from the U.S. Northeast left hospitals at a rate of 2 per 1,000. The rate for the rest of the country was 1 per 1,000.