People are hospitalized for many reasons, including trauma, heart attacks, and stroke. Perhaps, a person needs intensive treatment for cancer or elective surgery to replace a hip or a knee. Regardless of the reason for hospitalization, it is not unusual for the medical or surgical doctor to request a psychiatric consultation. Why? Many medical conditions and/or the treatments used for these conditions are associated with behavioral symptoms, and the internist or surgeon often wants input from a psychiatrist to help determine the cause of the behavioral changes and identify effective treatments.
Behavioral or mental health conditions are closely linked to acute or chronic illnesses and hospitalization. Approximately 30% of all patients’ in general medical / Surgical hospital settings exhibit psychiatric disorders, with delirium being detected in 10% of all medical inpatients and 30% in certain high-risk patient groups. An alarming two-thirds of high-frequency users of medical services have a psychiatric disorder, most commonly depression (23%), anxiety (22%), and somatic symptom disorder (formerly somatization disorder) (20%).As one would anticipate, the high psychiatric comorbidity to other medical disorders in hospitalized patients significantly increases their length of hospital stay. Lastly, psychiatric comorbidity remains vastly under recognized and undertreated in these hospitalized patients.