One Day Can Save Lives

Hospitals caring for Medicare patients could reduce costs, lower readmission rates, and save lives by keeping patients in the hospital for one extra day, according to researchers.
Hospitals caring for Medicare patients could reduce costs, lower readmission rates, and save lives by keeping patients in the hospital for one extra day, according to researchers Ann Bartel and Carri Chan of Columbia Business School in New York City and Song-Hee Kim of the Yale School of Management in New Haven, Connecticut.

Bartel, Chan, and Kim analyzed the medical records of more than 6.6 million Medicare patients treated in hospitals between 2008 and 2011. They found that hospitalizing patients one more day reduces mortality risk for pneumonia patients by 22 percent; for heart-attack patients, by 7 percent. It also helps save five to six more lives when compared to outpatient care.

According to the authors, one in five Medicare patients is readmitted to the hospital, and hospitals must pay penalties to Medicare for those readmissions. Because longer stays also reduce readmission rates, they cost much less compared to outpatient care after early discharges.

“Should Hospitals Keep Their Patients Longer? The Role of Inpatient and Outpatient Care in Reducing Readmissions.”

“Should Hospitals Keep Their Patients Longer? The Role of Inpatient and Outpatient Care in Reducing Readmissions” is available at www.columbia.edu/~cc3179/medicare_2014.pdf.