wanderer

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A person, often with a mental disorder, who is admitted to one hospital after another, for a period of 4 or more years

wanderer

A person, often with a mental disorder, admitted to one hospital after another, defined as ≥ 4/yr. Designations Wandering patient WP So named if wanderer has a treatable illness. Habitually wandering patient HWP So named if behavior extends over 5 + years. Note: Wandering may be a phenomenon unique to the US Veterans Affairs hospitals, which offer free medical care and/or hospital admission for prolonged periods of time to any person who is a veteran of military service. While such behavior has features overlapping those of factitious disorders, Munchausen syndrome, and drug seek ing behaviors, it is considered to be a 'pathology' a sui generis; in a 1991 report, 810 WPs were identified who averaged 8 admissions/year and 100 days of inpatient care, for substance abuse and/or mental disease for a total cost of $26.5 million; 35 HWPs were identified who totaled 2268 admissions and 7832 outpatient visits for a total cost of $6.5 million NEJM 1994; 331:1752oa, 1771ed