Study: More patients leaving hospitals against MD advice

A new study released by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality has concluded that there's been a dramatic increase in the rate of patients leaving hospitals against physician advice between 1997 and 2007.

The AHRQ concluded such departures had climbed 39 percent over the 10-year period studied. The number of cases of patients leaving against medical advice climbed from 264,000 in 1997 to 368,000 in 2007.

Of patients that left against doctors' advice, top reasons included chest pain with no determined cause, alcohol-related disorders, substance-related disorders, depression or other mood disorders and diabetes with complications.

Men were roughly 1.5 times more likely than women to leave. Also, patients from the Northeastern U.S. left at 2 per 1,000, while the rest of the country left at 1 per 1,000.

With virtually all of this happening before the recession truly hits, it makes one wonder what these numbers will look like for 2008 and 2009. I'd imagine there will be quite a bump upward, given that tales of people growing fearful of what they'll pay and leaving hospitals are growing all too common.

To learn more about the study:
- read this UPI piece