Health Services Research & Development

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Research News


Decreases in VA Hospital Length-of-Stay and Readmission Rates over 14 Years

December 18, 2012

A newly published article featured in the Annals of Internal Medicine shows decreases in VA hospital length-of-stay and readmissions rates over 14 years. Improving hospital efficiency by reducing the length of a patient’s stay should benefit both patients and hospitals. However, there is emerging concern that excessive length of stay (LOS) reductions may be harmful because discharge before medical stability can result in hospital readmission or use of emergency department services. A study by HSR&D investigators sought to determine trends in hospital length of stay and 30-day readmission rates in the VA healthcare system for all medical diagnoses combined. Using VA data, investigators identified all acute medical admissions to 129 VA hospitals from FY97 to FY10, with the final cohort totaling more than 4 million admissions over 14 years. Findings show that VA hospitals demonstrated simultaneous improvements in hospital LOS and readmission rates from 1997 to 2010. This indicates that LOS reductions have not, thus far, adversely affected the likelihood of hospital readmission. In addition, all-cause mortality 90 days after admission was reduced by 3% annually.