The effects of state psychiatric hospital waitlist policies on length of stay and time to readmission
This study examined the effects of a waitlist policy for state psychiatric hospitals on length of stay and time to readmission using data from North Carolina for 2004–2010. Cox proportional hazards models tested the hypothesis that patients were discharged “quicker-but-sicker” post-waitlist, as hospitals struggled to manage admission delays and quickly admit waitlisted patients. Results refute this hypothesis, indicating that waitlists were associated with increased length of stay and time to readmission. Further research is needed to evaluate patients’ clinical outcomes directly and to examine the impact of state hospital waitlists in other areas, such as state hospital case mix, local emergency departments, and outpatient mental health agencies.