Sunday, August 30, 2009

How Many Patients Per Hour?

Psychiatrist and former podcast guest Dr. Mark Komrad asks:

As Chairman of Ethics at Sheppard Pratt I have been approached with a question that seems to stand at the border between ethics and "practice guidelines." The question is: "What is the maximum number of patients that a psychiatrist can/should see in an hour to be safe and effective?" In other words, the concern is about certain psychiatrists who are starting to see 8, 9, even as many as 12 patients in an hour (these would average to 7.5-10 min per patient if no breaks). This is an entirely new level of caseload that is emerging, and the question came to me "at what point does it start to become unethical or bad practice." I find this difficult to answer, but thought it a good question to submit for discussion on this list. Afterall, if memory servies, I read somewhere that the typical Primary Care doc is gives each patient an average of 8.5 minutes. Is it possible to do psychiatry with that kind of average time per encounter? Your thoughts?