Pediatric Hospitalizations for Depression: Cost, Frequency

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Pediatric Hospitalizations for Depression Are Costly, Common
Pediatric Hospitalizations for Depression Are Costly, Common

(HealthDay News) — Among inpatient diagnoses for child mental health, depression is one of the most frequent and costly reasons for pediatric hospitalizations, according to research published online March 17 in Pediatrics.

Naomi S. Bardach, MD, of the University of California at San Francisco, and colleagues examined discharge data for general medical facilities and free-standing children's hospitals in the United States to assess patterns and costs for pediatric mental health diagnoses.

The researchers found that primary mental health diagnoses accounted for nearly 10% of pediatric hospitalizations nationally and 3% of pediatric hospitalizations at free-standing children's hospitals. Characteristics associated with child hospitalizations for a primary mental health problem were older age, male gender, white race, and private insurance. At a national level, the most common and most costly primary mental health diagnoses for hospitalizations in children were depression (44.1%  of all pediatric mental health admissions; $1.33 billion), bipolar disorder (18.1%; $702 million), and psychosis (12.1%; $540 million).

"We identified the child mental health inpatient diagnoses with the highest frequency and highest costs as depression, bipolar disorder, and psychosis, with substance abuse an important comorbid diagnosis," the authors write. "These diagnoses can be used as priority conditions for pediatric mental health inpatient quality measurement."

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