Hospital Observation Stays Dramatically Increased

According to a new AARP report, observations stays increased by more than 100% and long stays became more common between 2001 and 2009.  During the same time, observation stays that lasted longer than 48 hours also increased significantly; observation stays lasting more than two days that didn’t end with inpatient admission increased almost 250%.

Researchers cite a number of factors including increased payer and regulator scrutiny of short inpatient stays and changes in reimbursement.  It was also noted that a potential driver of observation stays, hospital readmission penalties, started last year.  Long-term care providers and other senior advocates are not in favor of the rise in observation stays since it can keep patients from qualifying for Medicare coverage in LTC facilities.

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