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Success of Short-Stay Units Linked to Access to Services

Accessibility of diagnostic tests reduces likelihood of stay over 72 hours

MONDAY, June 15 (HealthDay News) -- The success of hospitalist-run short-stay units depends on having access to services that match the target patients' needs, according to a study published in the May/June issue of the Journal of Hospital Medicine.

Brian P. Lucas, M.D., of Rush Medical College in Chicago, and colleagues conducted a study of 755 admissions to the short-stay unit of a large public teaching hospital over a period of four months to assess the profile of patients whose stay was deemed successful, i.e., less than 72 hours and not requiring subsequent admission to traditional inpatient services.

Stays by 582 (79 percent) patients were deemed successful. Among unsuccessful stays, patients with a diagnosis of heart failure were likely to stay more than 72 hours, and patients who had a consultation with a specialist were the most likely to be admitted to traditional inpatient care, the investigators found. The less accessible diagnostic tests were, the more likely the patients were to have a long stay, the researchers discovered.

"We found that the types of services received by patients during their short-stay unit stays were stronger predictors of long stays and eventual admissions to traditional inpatient services than patients' characteristics upon admission to the short-stay unit," the authors write. "This suggests that short-stay units should be focused toward matching patients' anticipated needs with readily accessible services."

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