Post-acute care discharge delays for neurology inpatients: Opportunity to improve patient flow.Neurol Clin Pract 2018; 8(4):302-310NC
Hospital stays for patients discharged to post-acute care are longer and more costly than routine discharges. Issues disrupting patient flow from hospital to post-acute care facilities are an underrecognized strain on hospital resources. We sought to quantify the burden of medically unnecessary hospital days for inpatients with neurologic illness and planned discharge to post-acute care facilities.
We conducted a retrospective evaluation of hospital discharge delays for patients with neurologic disease and plans for discharge to post-acute care. We identified 100 sequential hospital admissions to an academic neurology inpatient service that were medically ready for discharge from December 4, 2017, to January 25, 2018. For each patient, we quantified the number of medically unnecessary hospital days, or all days in the hospital following the determination of medical discharge readiness.
Among 100 patients medically ready for discharge with plans for post-acute care disposition (47 female, mean age 72.5 years, mean length of stay 12.3 days), 50 patients were planned for discharge to skilled nursing, 37 to acute rehabilitation, 10 to hospice/palliative care, and 3 to other facilities. There was a total of 1,226 patient-days, and 480 patient-days (39%) occurred following medical readiness for discharge. Medically unnecessary days ranged from 0 to 80 days per patient (mean 4.8, median 2.5, interquartile range 1-5 days).
Unnecessary hospital days represent a large burden for patients with neurologic illness requiring post-acute care on discharge. These discharge delays present an opportunity to improve hospital-wide patient flow.