Reuters (4/24, Seaman) reports that when admitting a psychiatric patient from the emergency department (ED) to a hospital bed, physicians may spend approximately 40 minutes getting approval from health insurers, according to a research letter published online April 23 in the Annals of Emergency Medicine. Sometimes that approval process took upwards of an hour. The authors of the research letter came to these conclusions after following 53 patients with psychiatric problems who arrived at their ED during a three-month period last year.
On its website, Fox News (4/23, Woerner) reports, “Unlike other doctors, psychiatrists are required to seek permission from a patient’s insurance company, before admitting anyone to the hospital from an emergency” department. After making a determination that a patient needs to be put into the hospital, psychiatrists must phone health insurers to make the case for hospitalization. “They present initially to an administrator and then to a social worker. If the case is denied by the social worker, the psychiatrists must present their case to a doctor.” Only patients on Medicare do not need such approval. The authors of the research letter would like to see psychiatrists have the ability to admit patients based on clinical expertise.
— “Psychiatric insurance approval takes time in ERs, “Andrew M. Seaman, Reuters, April 23, 2013.