Patients Fear Your Disapproval; Thieves Eye Your Medical Records; More

Marcy Tolkoff, JD


October 13, 2017

In This Article

An Extra Day in the Hospital Saves Lives

Keeping patients in the hospital one day longer can significantly cut readmissions, save patient lives, and reduce costs, according to just-published research from Columbia Business School.

The findings are pretty ironic in light of rising penalties in 2015 for hospitals with high Medicare readmission rates. Columbia's study, "Should Hospitals Keep Their Patients Longer? The Role of Inpatient and Outpatient Care in Reducing Readmissions,"[5] compares the impact of an extended length of stay in the hospital vs the effects of outpatient care for Medicare patients. Researchers found that 24 extra hours in the hospital can:

Reduce mortality risk by 22% for patients treated for pneumonia;

Reduce mortality risk by 7% for heart-attack patients;

Result in five to six times more lives being saved when compared with outpatient care; and

Decrease readmission rates by 7% for severe heart-failure patients.

Additionally, the study showed that one extra day in the hospital would, in many cases, cost less overall than the associated outpatient care required with early discharge. Currently, about 1 in every 5 Medicare patients is readmitted to the hospital within 30 days of discharge, costing US taxpayers at least $17 billion annually. The study analyzed medical records from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services of more than 6.6 million Medicare patients aged 65 years or older with in-hospital visits between 2008 and 2011. Researchers found that "one extra day in the hospital could reduce these readmission rates, ensure healthier patients, and save money."


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