Depressed in N.Y. no better off

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A watchdog group, says in a new report, that depressed New Yorkers are still getting poor medical care. This complaint comes a year after health management organizations in the city were urged to do better.

According to the New York State Health Accountability Foundation, only 24% of patients had followup doctor visits in the 12 weeks after being diagnosed with depression, and only 44% took antidepressants for the recommended six months or longer.

The criticisms of New York's HMOs are very similar to those made last year by the foundation.

Dr. Anthony Shih, vice president of IPRO, an independent health care quality improvement organization and a founder of the foundation, says very little movement has been seen.

Laurel Pickering of the New York Business Group on Health, a business coalition that works to influence health policy and a sponsor of the foundation, says depression is a treatable disorder.

But although treatment of depression was an area identified as needing work, the report stated New York health plans were better than the national average overall.

On a 10-point scale, 66% of members questioned by the report's authors rated their HMO as 8, 9 or 10, compared to 62% nationally.

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