San Francisco repeat psychiatric patients cost city over $4M in last 5 years

San Francisco legislators held a hearing on the city's public psychiatric services after Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital staff complaints that understaffing and inadequate follow-up care have led to costly patient readmissions, the San Francisco Standard reported last week.

Nearly 2,000 ambulance trips over the last five years were taken by five people, costing the city around $4 million, a community paramedicine chief for the San Francisco Fire Department told the news outlet July 28.

More than 60 percent of patients admitted to Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital’s psychiatric emergency unit leave with only a referral for outpatient treatment and without a formal follow-up care plan in place, according to the city's health department. 

"Handing someone a piece of paper is likely an inadequate kind of referral," Hillary Kunins, head of behavioral health at the city's health department, told the San Francisco Standard. 

According to the San Francisco Standard, workers said understaffing creates dangerous situations in the hospital. 

"It's very concerning to me when we talk about staffing [psychiatric emergency services] and [the public health department] reports that we don’t have a problem," Heather Bollman, RN, a nurse at the hospital, told the San Francisco Standard. "These are [comments] that are coming from the boots on the ground."

Hospital representatives and city legislator Rafael Mandelman plan to hold more hearings to create a better care plan for the city's psychiatric patients, according to the publication.

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