Sometimes, mental health treatment means having to go into a modern psychiatric hospital. Unlike psychiatric hospitals of old, modern facilities are meant to help stabilize an individual and provide a safe and protected environment for a person to heal with around-the-clock care.
But modern psychiatric hospitals still have their share of troubles, as illustrated in an in-depth piece today in the Los Angeles Times which examines Psychiatric Solutions Inc (PSI), a chain of psychiatric hospitals across the country. In the article, the problems with the chain are laid out:
Since 2005, the 10 hospitals PSI has owned longest have compiled almost twice as many patient-care deficiencies as 10 similar hospitals owned by its closest competitor, Universal Health Services Inc.
The PSI hospitals were cited in three patient deaths and for placing patients in immediate jeopardy four times, the inspection records show. The UHS hospitals received no equivalent citations.
Among private psychiatric hospitals in California, Sierra Vista had the single highest rate of state and federal deficiencies — about eight times the statewide average.
It has twice been fined $25,000 for endangering patients — accounting for the only such penalties levied against psychiatric hospitals under a 2006 state law establishing the sanctions.
Yikes. Not exactly good things to hear about a facility where you’re literally putting your life into their hands.
What’s the problem? Likely staffing issues related to a chase for ever-increasing profits and unchecked growth (going from 5 facilities to 95 in just 5 short years):
The five PSI hospitals in California had a profit margin of more than 25% in 2007, according to data from the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development. The average for the state’s other for-profit psychiatric hospitals was about 6%.
The data also shed some light on how PSI has achieved these results.
PSI’s California hospitals proportionally have fewer registered nurses than other private psychiatric facilities: about one for every four beds, compared with one for every two beds, according to the state data. Overall, the PSI hospitals have about one-third fewer staffers per bed.
There’s nothing wrong with growing one’s business, but not at the expense of patient care. And this is a prime example of an argument that hospitals — all hospitals of all types — should be run as non-profit organizations, rather than for-profit businesses which are rewarded for cost cutting, regardless of patient care.
The article is a long piece and goes into detail about these concerns, illustrated throughout with the tragic stories of those affected by PSI’s care.
It’s worth the read.
Read the full article: Psychiatric care’s peril and profits