Levels of Care

Treatment for eating disorders often includes several levels of care, read more to learn about each one. The appropriate Level of care is determined by the considering the following factors: Insurance coverage limits and ability to pay for treatment; Severity and duration of the illness & Concerns related to medical and psychological status.

Medical Stabilization can be the first step in treatment for patients who’s medical condition is highly unstable and requires acute medical care and/or observation. Care is usually provided on the medical floors of a hospital. This level of care is indicated when the patients laboratory and vital signs suggest that the patient is at imminent risk for serious adverse health consequences. While undergoing care at this level, psychiatric treatment is limited to allow the patient as much rest as possible. Length of stay depends on severity of condition. Upon discharge patients are usually stepped down to the Inpatient or residential levels of care.

  • Key indicators for this level
    • Acute medical concerns
    • Stabilization for admission to inpatient or residential levels of care
IP is often the first step in treatment for patients who’s medical or psychiatric condition is unstable and requires a high level of care and/or observation. Care is usually (but not always) provided on an secured (locked) unit where patients receive both medical and psychiatric care through a series of individual and group therapies. Length of stay ranges from 7 to 90 days. Upon discharge patients are often stepped down to the residential or Partial Hospitalization levels of care.

  • Key indicators for this level
    • Need for 24 hour supervision and/or support
    • Unstable medical or psychiatric condition
    • Noncompliance with treatment
    • Lacks Insurance coverage for residential level
    • Failure to improve at lower levels of care
RTC can be the first step in treatment for patients who’s medical or psychiatric condition is stable but requires constant care and/or observation. Care is usually provided in a unsecured (unlocked) residential setting where patients have increased autonomy. While in care, patients receive both medical and psychiatric care through a series of individual and group therapies. Length of stay often ranges from 1 to 6 months. Upon discharge patients are often stepped down to the Partial Hospitalization level of care.

  • Key indicators for this level
    • Patient is medically stable but Eating disorder impairs daily functioning
    • Need for 24 hour supervision and/or support
    • Need for longer term placement in “real world” setting
    • Failure to improve at lower levels of care
PHP can be either a step down from higher levels of care or the first step in treatment for patients who’s medical or psychiatric condition is stable but requires frequent care and/or observation. Care is usually provided 6-8 hours a day for as many as 5 days a week in a unsecured (unlocked) setting. While at this level of care patients attend PHP during the day and return to their homes at night. These programs usually coordinate with outside providers for medical supervision of patients and provide psychiatric care through a series of individual and group therapies. Length of stay often ranges from 1 to 6 months. If a patient fails to improve at this level of care they are often stepped up to Inpatient or residential levels of care. For those who do improve, they usually step down to the Intensive Outpatient level of care.

  • Key indicators for this level
    • Patient is medically stable but Eating disorder impairs daily functioning
    • Need for daily supervision and/or support
    • Need for longer term care in a less restrictive setting
    • Failure to improve at lower levels of care
IOP is often used for patients who’s medical or psychiatric condition is stable but requires intermittent care and/or observation and is usually the last step down for patients transitioning to the outpatient level of care. Care is usually provided 2-3 hours a day for as many as 3 days a week in a unsecured (unlocked) setting. While at this level of care patients usually return to work or school during the day and attend IOP in the evening. These programs usually coordinate with outside providers for medical supervision of patients and provide psychiatric care through a series of individual and group therapies. Length of stay ranges from 1 to 6 months. If a patient fails to improve at this level of care they are often stepped up to PHP, Inpatient or residential levels of care. For those who do improve, they usually step down to the Outpatient level of care.

  • Key indicators for this level
    • Patient is medically stable and eating disorders symptoms and/or behaviors are under control
    • Need for less frequent supervision and/or support
    • Need for continued care in a least restrictive setting
OP is often used for patients who’s medical or psychiatric condition is stable and requires weekly monitoring. This is the lowest level of care and patients usually attend for 1 hour a week in a outpatient office setting. While at this level of care patients are usually working or attending school on a regular basis. Outpatient treatment providers often coordinate care with other providers for medical supervision and nutritional support. Psychiatric care is offered as individual and/or group therapies. Length of treatment is unlimited. If a patient fails to improve at this level of care they are often stepped up to PHP, Inpatient or residential levels of care.