Healthcare News & Insights

Avoid long hospital stays, readmissions from these ICU diagnoses

Longer hospital stays for patients can hurt your hospital’s bottom line. They also make it more likely that patients will leave dissatisfied. Spending more than a few days in the hospital usually causes patients to be cranky and upset, regardless of the quality of the care they receive, and it can sap your facility’s resources. 

A new study from Premier Inc., a healthcare improvement company, looked at patient discharges from intensive care units (ICUs) over the past five years and found the top diagnoses that have the most care variation, resulting in longer hospital stays.

No. 1 on the list? Complications and comorbidities from sepsis, where the most opportunity to reduce care variation exists, according to Premier.

Other conditions include:

  • infectious and parasitic diseases associated with surgeries, with major complications and comorbidities
  • cardiac procedures without cardiac catheterization, with major complications and comorbidities
  • respiratory system issues with ventilator support, and
  • heart failure, with major complications and comorbidities.

Knowing which diagnoses cause the most variation in ICU care and lead to longer visits allows you to work on improving your hospital’s results and its patient care. Getting patients in and out of your hospital faster means being able to treat more patients, which increases revenue.

Plus, patients are happier when they don’t have prolonged hospital stays, and improving patient satisfaction scores can draw more people and resources to your organization.

The report also found that patients treated at top-performing hospitals spent 24% less time in the ICU than at other hospitals.

Best practices

In the same study, Premier laid out four best practices to help decrease the amount of time patients spent in the ICU. Those practices are:

  • collectively using evidence-based practices to reduce hospital-acquired infections and delirium
  • creating intermediate care settings for patients who don’t need ICU-level care anymore
  • using checklists to keep track of patient progress and goals, and
  • collaborating with doctors, nurses, pharmacists and other multidisciplinary members of the ICU staff.

In addition to these best practices, patients tend to have shorter hospital stays and avoid readmissions when they’re actively engaged in their treatments.

Using electronic devices like tablets to let patients review their medical notes and communicate with their providers can help patients feel like they have more control, empowering them to get out of the hospital quicker and improve their health.

When it comes to avoiding readmissions, care coordination is essential, especially post-discharge. Helping patients schedule follow-up appointments with their primary care doctors and making sure every provider has the necessary information about their health keeps them from returning to the hospital.

Sometimes, readmissions and long hospital stays are unavoidable. But when possible, cutting down on the length of hospital stays is key for any facility looking to improve patient satisfaction and boost value.

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