Mortality among patients in psychiatric hospitals in Germany

W Hewer, W Rössler, B Fätkenheuer, W Löffler
Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica 1995, 91 (3): 174-9
Data from 7 psychiatric hospitals with defined catchment areas were analyzed; 14,195 episodes of treatment in acute psychiatry wards were recorded within 30 months. During their stay in hospital 196 patients died, 174 from natural causes and 22 by suicide, compared to the expected 32 deaths. Standardized mortality ratios (SMRs) were calculated for the different diagnostic and age groups, mortality risk being highest in organic mental disorder (SMR 7.55), followed by functional psychoses (SMR 4.55) and the "other disorders" (alcoholism, neurotic and related disorders, SMR 3.25). Roughly one half of the 196 deaths were due to cardiovascular disorders and pneumonia. In patients with nonorganic psychiatric syndromes, suicide was the most frequent cause of death (21 of 58 fatalities). With regard to the elevated mortality risk of patients with acute mental illness, a reduction of fatality rates from natural and unnatural causes should remain a major objective of hospital care in psychiatry.

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