Reasons for long hospital stays include continued medical care such as therapy, surgical interventions, and chemotherapy or radiotherapy and also non-medical reasons such as staff inefficiency and miscommunication, equipment mismanagement, waiting for a community hospital bed, waiting for a new caregiver, and uncertainty on discharge disposition or anticipated location. Other reasons for long hospital stays relate to complications from the hospital stay itself such as hospital-acquired infections (HAIs), pneumonia, confusion, and side effects from immobility such as DVTs. Hospital patients, especially elderly patients, are vulnerable to long hospital stays due to their medical conditions that led them to the hospital in the first place and long stays put additional stress on their bodies that can create further complications.
It is important to understand the various reasons for long hospital stays as hospital beds and staff are a limited resource and the number of patient hospital admissions and prolonged stays is increasing. Some of these reasons for long hospital stays can be mitigated. Proper planning to address the reasons for long hospital stays can lead to the most desirable healthcare utilization. Vascular Wellness is a team of Vascular Access Specialists that understands the reasons for and impact of prolonged hospital stays and can reduce a patient’s length of stay in the hospital or completely keep a patient out altogether by providing expert vascular access at the bedside, whether on an inpatient or outpatient basis.
Prolonged Hospital Stay Consequences
| How Does Length of Stay Affect Hospitals
Prolonged hospital stay consequences for both the patients that have their stay extended and the hospital reimbursement process can be impactful. The longer a patient stays in the hospital, the greater the risk that the patient will develop a healthcare-acquired infection or that the patient will develop conditions beyond what they had when they entered the hospital for treatment. Also, the patient can suffer complications due to staff miscommunication that can lead to errors, delayed treatment, or treatments that are forgotten. Prolonged hospital stay consequences are significant and can result in having the hospital have to cover all expenses of treating an HAI or other complication and while doing so, beds are not available for new patients affecting care. Prolonged hospital stay consequences also include higher mortality rates.
Length of stay affects hospitals as it is used as an important measure of the efficiency of hospitals indicating how well healthcare resources are being used. The average length of stay (ALOS) in a hospital is about four to five days. Hospitals above that, without any other explanation or information, can be considered inefficient and wasteful of healthcare. In such situations, hospitals may need to reevaluate their policies of patient care and other related areas in order to become more efficient.
Benefits of Reducing Length of Stay in Hospitals
| Benefits of Decreased Stay
The benefits of reducing the length of stay in hospitals are many but primarily focus on the fact that additional beds become available for hospitals to treat more patients. Having more beds available means the hospital can more likely meet the needs of its patients and community, and utilize its resources more efficiently. Furthermore, less time in the hospital decreases patient risk of developing healthcare-acquired infections or other complications. Overall, reducing or decreasing the length of stay in hospitals is generally an indication that the hospital has become more efficient and effective in delivering care.
Benefits of decreased length of hospital stay can also include a positive impact on the patient experience. Patients or their families can recognize when the patient is being kept longer than necessary. They find it frustrating, and it leads to an overall negative experience. However, when patients receive prompt, excellent hospital care and are discharged at the appropriate time, they are much more likely to view the hospital stay favorably and are more likely to trust the hospital with their care in the future.
Decrease Length of Stay in Hospitals
| Ways of Reducing Hospital Stays
Decrease length of stay in hospitals, when done correctly, is a proper priority for hospitals to help ensure their capacity for community care. After all, hospitals are generally meant for short-term acute care. Ways of reducing hospital stays start with having a more efficient intake process such as having all medical information available on the patient. Length of stay can be reduced at the end of a hospital stay by creating a standard discharge process. This includes coordinating any patient transportation. Nurses or other healthcare workers can properly prepare patients and caregivers for discharge, instruct patients about medications, and communicate effectively with providers responsible for post-discharge care. Having doctors and nurses work at the top of their license by utilizing other team members or technology can reduce staff inefficiency. Additionally, managing the hospital equipment and supplies for quicker patient treatment leads to faster discharge. There are many ways of reducing hospital stays that don’t negatively impact patient care and which result in a decreased length of stay in hospitals.
In addition to the above, prioritizing and maintaining strict infection control is a significant way to reduce hospital stays. Infection control protects both patients and healthcare personnel from diseases such as healthcare-acquired infections (HCAIs) and prevents the spread of disease in healthcare environments. Healthcare workers can help control the spread of infections by consistently following best practice industry protocols such as proper handwashing and hygiene; use of personal protective equipment such as gloves, masks, and eyewear; workplace sanitation; and disposing of trash and hazardous waste. Judicious use of handwashing and sanitation is paramount to good infection control and healthcare workers should wash hands with soap and water before and after changing patient bandages and after touching beds, doors, and using the restroom.
Hospital Stays and the Elderly
Hospital stays and the elderly, aged 65 and older, represent both the highest percentage of hospital stays for adults with various chronic conditions and the second-highest percentage of hospital costs. Elderly patients have begun the process of aging and this leads to limited regenerative abilities and less ability to resist disease, syndromes, injuries, and sickness than younger adults. As the elderly become more frail, the body breaks down both physically and mentally and requires a high level of care. Most medical interventions such as hospital stays for the elderly are to prolong life. Further, the elderly or senior citizens, are even more susceptible to treatment or drug reactions that can prolong a hospital stay.
Hospital stays and the elderly are not great combinations and are not ideal for either the senior patient or the hospital. Hospital stays for the elderly increase the risks of additional medical conditions such as hospital-acquired infections and may disrupt patient flow and access to care due to bed shortages. These additional medical conditions can lead to longer hospital stays and even readmission. Hospital stays can also result in interrupted sleep, weight loss, mild delirium, and deconditioning from days in bed and this can lead to worsening health in an elderly person who is unable to bounce back as quickly as a younger person. This vulnerable state after a hospital stay can even lead to new medical conditions. Some early markers for prolonged hospital stays include patients with walking difficulties, fall risk, cognitive impairment, and malnutrition risk. Hospital stays and the elderly, under the field of geriatrics, is a specialized area of medicine and deserves devoted attention and care to help the elderly get the right care at the right time while minimizing complications.
Vascular Access Specialists
| Vascular Wellness
Vascular Wellness is a team of Vascular Access Specialists that provides care at the bedside that can keep patients out of the hospital or at the hospital on an outpatient basis while receiving their vascular access treatments. However, if patients are treated in the hospital, Vascular Wellness can help reduce the length of stay helping the hospital realize the benefits of the decreased length of stay. With Vascular Wellness, patients can generally be treated quicker and more efficiently and this leads to more rapid discharges. Vascular Wellness has a zero infection rate and is able to mitigate most side effects such as DVTs, which would lead to longer hospitalization or even readmission – another way to reduce the length of stay at a hospital. Vascular Wellness clinicians are experts in all aspects of Vascular Access Device (VAD) placement including assessment, insertion, maintenance, difficult placements, and removal. Vascular Wellness Specialists are W2 employees who complete comprehensive training that can involve placing 50 to 100 lines per procedure type, follow best practices for line placement for vein preservation and to prevent side effects, and utilize the best equipment and supplies from Bard/BD, a leading supplier to hospitals. Vascular Wellness clinicians can place Ultrasound-Guided Extended Dwell PIVs, Midlines, and PICCs, and many clinicians can place advanced devices including Small Bore Central Catheter Lines (such as Internal Jugular Lines and Femoral Lines) and Large Bore Central Catheter Lines (such as Vas Caths for Dialysis and Quad Lumens). Vascular Wellness also provides Vascular Access training, infection control, and comprehensive administrative support including quality reports and detailed patient records for The Joint Commission surveyors. Vascular Wellness clinicians are Vascular Access Specialists and serve as reliable, scalable, and trusted Outsourcing partners to any healthcare provider or facility.
If you require Vascular Access or want to learn more about our services, speak to the team at Vascular Wellness today. For the latest articles and insights, follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram.