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Type: Journal article
Title: Does hospital occupancy impact discharge rates?
Author: Harrison, G.
Zeitz, K.
Adams, R.
Mackay, M.
Citation: Australian Health Review, 2013; 37(4):458-466
Publisher: Australian Healthcare Association
Issue Date: 2013
ISSN: 0156-5788
Statement of
Gary Harrison, Kathryn Zeitz, Robert Adams, Mark Mackay
Abstract: OBJECTIVE. To understand what impact hospital inpatient occupancy levels have on patient throughput by analysing one hospital’s occupancy levels and the rate of patient discharge. METHODS. A four-stage model was fit to hospital admission and separation data and used to analyse the per-capita separation rate according to the patient load and the impact of hospital over-census actions. RESULTS. Per-capita separation rates are significantly higher on days when the hospital declares an over-census due to emergency department crowding. Per-capita separation rates are also higher or lower on days with 8-10% higher or lower patient loads, respectively, but the response is not nearly as strong as the response to an over-census declaration, and is limited to patients with an elapsed stay of 10 days or more. Within the medical division there is an increase in per-capita separation rates on over-census days, but no significant difference in per-capita release rates for different patient loads. Within the surgical division there is no significant difference in per-capita separation rates on over-census days compared with other days, but the patient load does make a significant difference. CONCLUSION. Staff do discharge a greater proportion of long-stay patients when the hospital is experiencing high demand and a lower proportion when occupancy is low, but the reasons driving those changes remains unclear. WHAT IS KNOWN ABOUT THE TOPIC? The evidence regarding safe and efficient levels of hospital occupancy is limited. There is minimal empirical evidence that confirms the relationship between occupancy and discharge rates. WHAT DOES THE PAPER ADD? Per-capita separation rates increase strongly on over-census days. The hospital increases per-capita separation rates on days of high occupancy and reduces it on days of low occupancy, mostly for long-stay patients with over 10 days of elapsed stay. The response to high occupancy is not as strong as the response to over-census. The medical division responds strongly to the over-census and the surgical division does not. The surgical division responds more to occupancy levels within its own division than does the medical division. WHAT ARE THE IMPLICATIONS FOR PRACTITIONERS? The implementation of over-census-type responses to periods of high occupancy may result in increased per-capita separation rate. Using mathematical analysis to understand patient load on per capita separation is important to create a better understanding of health service delivery, thereby aiding hospital managers, and has the potential to guide system improvement. The clinical drivers for these changes and the service design implications require further investigation.
Keywords: Humans; Patient Discharge; Models, Statistical; Crowding; Databases, Factual; Hospitals, Teaching; Bed Occupancy; Emergency Service, Hospital; Queensland
Rights: © 2013 AHHA.
RMID: 0020131780
DOI: 10.1071/AH12012
Appears in Collections:Nursing publications

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