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JOURNAL ARTICLE

Increased 30-Day Emergency Department Revisits Among Homeless Patients with Mental Health Conditions

Chun Nok Lam, Sanjay Arora, Michael Menchine
Western Journal of Emergency Medicine 2016, 17 (5): 607-12
27625726

INTRODUCTION: Patients with mental health conditions frequently use emergency medical services. Many suffer from substance use and homelessness. If they use the emergency department (ED) as their primary source of care, potentially preventable frequent ED revisits and hospital readmissions can worsen an already crowded healthcare system. However, the magnitude to which homelessness affects health service utilization among patients with mental health conditions remains unclear in the medical community. This study assessed the impact of homelessness on 30-day ED revisits and hospital readmissions among patients presenting with mental health conditions in an urban, safety-net hospital.

METHODS: We conducted a secondary analysis of administrative data on all adult ED visits in 2012 in an urban safety-net hospital. Patient demographics, mental health status, homelessness, insurance coverage, level of acuity, and ED disposition per ED visit were analyzed using multilevel modeling to control for multiple visits nested within patients. We performed multivariate logistic regressions to evaluate if homelessness moderated the likelihood of mental health patients' 30-day ED revisits and hospital readmissions.

RESULTS: Study included 139,414 adult ED visits from 92,307 unique patients (43.5±15.1 years, 51.3% male, 68.2% Hispanic/Latino). Nearly 8% of patients presented with mental health conditions, while 4.6% were homeless at any time during the study period. Among patients with mental health conditions, being homeless contributed to an additional 28.0% increase in likelihood (4.28 to 5.48 odds) of 30-day ED revisits and 38.2% increase in likelihood (2.04 to 2.82 odds) of hospital readmission, compared to non-homeless, non-mental health (NHNM) patients as the base category. Adjusted predicted probabilities showed that homeless patients presenting with mental health conditions have a 31.1% chance of returning to the ED within 30-day post discharge and a 3.7% chance of hospital readmission, compared to non-homeless patients presenting with mental health conditions (25.2%, 2.6%) and NHNM (7.7%, 1.5%).

CONCLUSION: Homeless patients presenting with mental health conditions were more likely to return to the ED within 30 days and to be readmitted to the hospital. Interventions providing housing might improve their overall care management and have the potential to reduce ED revisits and hospital readmissions.

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