Psychiatric Hospital Oversight

HEHS-96-132R: Published: May 24, 1996. Publicly Released: Jun 10, 1996.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed federal and state oversight of state-operated and private psychiatric hospitals. GAO noted that: (1) as of August 1995, 702 psychiatric hospitals were certified to participate in Medicare and Medicaid; (2) to become certified for participation in Medicare and Medicaid, psychiatric hospitals must satisfy general hospital requirements for health and safety, and special psychiatric hospital requirements for active treatment; (3) hospital medical records must reflect the degree of active treatment and hospitals must have qualified staff to evaluate and treat patients; (4) the Health Care Financing Administration (HCFA) requires states to conduct surveys of psychiatric hospitals to determine whether they satisfy certification requirements; (5) surveys of psychiatric hospitals include examinations of hospital and patient records, direct observations of patients, and interviews with staffs and patients; (6) as of August 1995, most certified psychiatric hospitals satisfied HCFA requirements for medical records and staffing; and (7) the failure to evaluate a patient's strengths when developing a treatment plan, specify each patient's treatment goals, and indicate the methods of treatment were the most common deficiencies cited in surveys of psychiatric hospitals that failed to satisfy HCFA certification requirements.

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