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1 in 5 Minnesota psych patients stay in hospitals due to lack of post-acute care facilities

Minnesota hospital psychiatric units are housing hundreds of psychiatric patients for extended periods of time due to a lack of places to transport them once stabilized, the StarTribune reported.

Approximately 50,000 unnecessary hospital days could be avoided a year, as about 130 psychiatric patients per day are stuck in hospital beds throughout Minnesota without anywhere to go, according to a study from Amherst H. Wilder Foundation in St. Paul, Minn. In turn, the facilities are racking up millions in costs from caring for the nearly one in five patients who could be discharged and sent to facilities with less intensive care.

Such a high level of immobile psychiatric patients has led to overcrowded emergency departments, with some psychiatric patients placed in hallways or sent to nearby states for care, according to the report. The study also found 19 percent of hospital days spent in psychiatric beds were "potentially avoidable," as patients could be discharged but had no place to go afterward.

Legislators are expected to consider the report as it comes on the heels of state recommendations for mental health reform, the StarTribune reported. Hospital administrators have said system-wide reform is needed.

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