More Leave Hospital Against Advice

From MedPage Today:

The number of people who check out of hospitals against medical advice has grown dramatically, according to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. In 2007, the agency said, inpatient care ended that way 368,000 times, accounting for 1.2% of all hospital stays, compared with only 264,000 such discharges a decade earlier.

That 39% increase is markedly higher than the 13% increase in all other hospital stays during the period from 1997 through 2007, the agency noted in a statistical brief.

The finding is based on data from the agency’s Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project 2007 Nationwide Inpatient Sample.

On average, hospital stays that ended in discharge against medical advice were about 2.7 days (versus 5.1 days for all other stays) and cost about $5,300 (versus $10,400).

The chief reason for care in such cases was nonspecific chest pain, accounting for 7% of the total. But alcohol-related disorders, substance-related disorders, and mood disorders taken together accounted for more than twice as many cases (6.9%, 5.7%, and 3.8% of the total, respectively.)

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