On the Quick: More Patients Are Discharged AMA

On The Quick

On the Quick: More Patients Are Discharged AMA

Many worry about the cost of hospitalization

By Elizabeth Hanink, RN, BSN, PHN
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More and more patients are leaving the hospital early and without their doctor’s consent; in other words, against medical advice. Using discharge data from 2008, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality reports that 370,000 patients checked out early compared to 264,000 in 1997 — a 40 percent increase over 12 years. Numbers come from a national database that records information on discharges from 95 percent of the nations’ hospitals. The average stay for the same period was four days with an average cost of $7,000.

Pulled in Many Directions

Why are people leaving when the hospital staff is telling them they need to stay? The AHRQ senior research scientist, Anne Elixhauser, indicated it might be the intense pressures patients face when they are hospitalized, problems that the hospital is not equipped to help them solve. Some face the likelihood of paying for part or all of the bill themselves, a staggering prospect for most people given the current cost of care. Others have circumstances at home or personal obligations that require their presence, or for which family support is lacking.

Although the numbers represent a small fraction of patients overall, clearly something is amiss. With hospital stays shortened as much as they have been over the last decade, surely every day counts in a move toward recovery.

This article is from workingnurse.com.

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