Michigan lawmakers call for closer look at psych patient deaths after discharge

Michigan health officials are not required to investigate when psychiatric patients die within two days of a hospital discharge, a loophole that some lawmakers want to close, reports ABC affiliate 7 Action News.

The Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs has historically required hospitals to report instances in which a psychiatric patient dies within two days of discharge, but it does not require the department to investigate these deaths.

Larry Horvath, the department's director of the bureau of community and health system, said hospitals should use the death reports to assess their own care processes and adjust as necessary.

"If they're starting to notice a pattern with a cause of death that occurs [after] discharge, hopefully they're starting to work with their medical directors, their nursing staff, their social workers, to put corrections in place to address it," he said.

Some lawmakers and mental health advocates are calling out the department for this stance. State Senate Majority Leader Jim Ananich, D-Flint, said the department should be doing everything it can to prevent unnecessary deaths. 

"The department should have the ability to identify concerning patterns, and if it requires a legislative fix to make sure they are empowered to do so, we will write the bill," Mr. Ananich said in a statement cited by 7 Action News. 

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