Physical and mental illnesses combined increase emergency department visits

Measuring the interaction between mental disorders and physical multimorbidity with respect to frequent visits to the emergency department.


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Individuals with both physical illness and mental disorders visit the emergency department more frequently than people with a various physical disease or mental illness alone, suggests a new study.

Scientists observed more than 5.3 million adults in Quebec, Canada, between 2012 and 2016.

They found that each extra physical illness in individuals with mental illness was related to a more significant increment infrequent visits to the emergency department contrasted with people without psychological disease. Between people with 0 to 4 physical conditions, the absolute risk increased 16.2% for people with mental severe wellness issue compared with individuals with basic mental health issues (15.3%) or no disorders (11.4%).

The authors suggest that innovative wellbeing approaches, for example, using clinical case managers in emergency departments to connect patients to nonemergency care providers could improve the consideration such patients receive. Ways to deal with high-quality care for mental illness can forestall up to 6% of emergency visits in Quebec.

Dr. Mark Sinyor, Department of Psychiatry, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre and the University of Toronto said, “The linked study used a rigorous methodology to show and quantify what should be intuitive to those of us who routinely treat patients with comorbid psychiatric and medical conditions. It contributes to a growing understanding of the interrelationship between mental and physical illness and suggests the need for a parallel synergy in the treatment strategy of these conditions, which is already beginning to occur.”

“The close interplay between mental and physical disorders strongly suggests that health care should ideally be provided via a collaborative approach in centers with expertise in both types of conditions.”

Mr. Marc Simard, Institut national de santé Publique du Québec (INSPQ), Québec, Quebec said, “Physical multimorbidity and mental disorders are associated with frequent visits to the emergency department. When both are present, the sum of their impacts is greater than its parts. This potential synergy between physical multimorbidity and mental disorders significantly increases the total impact on public health.”

The study is published in the CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal).