Juvenile Justice:

Admissions of Minors with Preadult Disorders to Private Psychiatric Hospitals

GGD-94-167FS: Published: Jul 26, 1994. Publicly Released: Jul 26, 1994.

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Pursuant to a legislative requirement, GAO reviewed the admission of minors with preadult disorders at private psychiatric hospitals, focusing on the: (1) frequency at which such minors are admitted to private hospitals; (2) average length of stay and methods of payment; (3) statutory protections afforded such minors; and (4) conditions of confinement at four selected hospitals.

GAO found that: (1) sufficient data do not exist to determine the extent to which minors with preadult disorders are admitted to private psychiatric hospitals or the methods they use to pay for their care; (2) California was the only state that could provide data on the number of minors with preadult disorders admitted to private psychiatric hospitals; (3) in California, the number of minors with preadult disorders admitted to private psychiatric hospitals decreased significantly between 1986 and 1991; (4) nearly two-thirds of the minors' hospitalization costs were paid by private health insurance; (5) the increase in the number of psychiatric facilities and the number of minors admitted to them in the 1980s was due to overly aggressive marketing by the health care industry; (6) health care officials believe that improvements in medication management and external insurance carrier reviews have led to reductions in the number of minors being admitted to private psychiatric hospitals; (7) state statutes that protect minors admitted to psychiatric hospitals vary; and (8) all of the four hospitals reviewed had similar conditions of confinement and provided their minor patients with a variety of treatment and educational services.

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