Practice Economics

HM16 Session Analysis: Medical, Behavioral Management of Eating Disorders


Presenter: Kyung E. Rhee, MD, MSc, MA

Summary: Eating disorders (ED) are common and have significant morbidity and mortality. EDs are the third most common psychiatric disorder of adolescents with a prevalence of 0.5-2% for anorexia and 0.9-3% for bulimia; 90% of patients are female. Mortality rate can be as high as 10% for anorexia and 1% for bulimia. Diagnosis is formally guided by DSM 5 criteria, but the mnemonic SCOFF can be useful:

  1. Do you feel or make yourself SICK when eating?
  2. Do you feel you’ve lost CONTROL of your eating?
  3. Have you lost one STONE (14 lbs. developed by the British) of weight?
  4. Do you feel FAT?
  5. Does FOOD dominate your life?

A detailed history is needed as patients with ED may engage in secretive behaviors to hide their illness. After diagnosis, treatment may be outpatient or inpatient. Medical issues hospitalists are likely to see with inpatients include re-feeding syndrome, various metabolic disturbances, secondary amenorrhea, sleep disturbances, and for patients with bulimia, evidence of dental or esophageal trauma from purging. Differential diagnoses include: IBD, thyroid disease, celiac, diabetes, and Addison’s disease.

Hospitalists’ role in treatment is as part of a multidisciplinary group to manage the medical complications. Inpatient management includes individual and group therapy, monitored group meals, daily blind weights, bathroom visits, and focused lab studies. There is no “cure” and only ~50% of patients are free of ongoing symptoms after treatment.

Key Takeaways

  • Eating disorders are common in adolescent females and have significant morbidity and mortality.
  • Hospitalists’ role is diagnosis via careful history and management of medical complications with an eating disorder team. TH

Dr. Pressel is a pediatric hospitalist and inpatient medical director at Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children in Wilmington, Del., and a member of Team Hospitalist.

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