Chronic critical illness: the growing challenge to health care.
- Neil R Macintyre
- Respiratory care
OBJECTIVE Compare clinical outcomes and costs in a study group of long-term acute care hospital (LTCH) patients with a control group of LTCH-eligible patients in an acute care hospital. LTCHs were created to provide post-acute care services not available at other post-acute settings. This is based on the premise that these patients would otherwise have stayed at acute care hospitals as high-cost outliers. The LTCH hospital is intended to deliver care to patients more efficiently, however, there are little documented clinical and financial data regarding the comparative clinical outcomes and costs for patients. METHODS Retrospective medical and billing record review of patients from the following groups: (1) LTCH study comprising patients admitted directly from an acute care hospital to the study LTCH and discharged from the LTCH from September 2004 through August 2006; (2) a control group of LTCH-eligible, medically complex patients treated and discharged from an acute care hospital in FY 2002. The control group was selected from approximately 500 patients who had at least one of the ten most common principle diagnosis DRGs of the study LTCH with >30-day length of stay at the referring hospital and met NALTH admitting guidelines. RESULTS Discharge disposition is an important outcome measure of the quality of care of medically complex patients. The in-hospital mortality rate trended lower and home discharge was 3 times higher for the LTCH study group than for the control group. As a possible result, SNF discharge of LTCH patients was approximately half that of the control group. Both mean patient cost per day and mean total cost per patient were significantly higher in the control group than in the LTCH study group. CONCLUSIONS The patients in the LTCH study group had both better clinical outcomes and lower cost of care than the control group.