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Can an Extra Day in the Hospital Save Your Life?

Posted on August 20, 2015

In a 2014 study from the Columbia School of Business that focused on the length of patient hospital stays (which have shortened over time despite questions about how shorter stays affect readmission rates and patient outcomes) there were some dramatic results.

The researchers analyzed medical records from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid for more than 6.6 million Medicare patients age 65 or older with inpatient hospital visits between 2008 and 2011. They then compared the potential benefits of a one day extended hospital stay to those of outpatient care in terms of reduced readmissions in the thirty days following discharge, death rates and costs.

The findings were dramatic. One additional day in the hospital can reduce readmission risk by 7% for high severity heart failure patients. In the case of pneumonia and heart attack patients, one additional day in the hospital can reduce the risk of mortality by 22% and 7% respectively. When compared to outpatient management programs, one extra day in the hospital for pneumonia and heart attack patients resulted in five to six times more lives saved.

Although the study looked at older patients, the issue of when a patient is discharged is frequently a problem for new mothers as many hospitals are under pressure to discharge a new mother even when a newborn might benefit from an extra day in the hospital.

If you believe you or your child may have been a victim of malpractice as a result of problems that occurred in connection with the time of your discharge or discharge instructions, you should contact a birth injury attorney.