The average hospital stay increased 19% overall in 2022 compared with pre-pandemic levels, and increased 24% for patients discharged to post-acute care, according to a new AHA issue brief based on data from Strata Decision Technology. Even after adjusting for greater patient acuity now than before the pandemic, the average hospital stay has increased significantly, as much as 29% for patients being discharged to psychiatric hospitals. As rising labor costs and workforce shortages threaten timely access to the most appropriate care for patients, AHA is urging Congress to establish a temporary per diem Medicare payment to help cover the cost to care for patients awaiting discharge, which it currently does not reimburse.
"Hospitals and health systems are dedicated to providing patients with the right care, in the right place, at the right time,” said AHA President and CEO Rick Pollack. “Delays in patient discharges create bottlenecks in the health care system, adding to the already overwhelming challenges facing our hospitals and caregivers. Temporary relief to overburdened hospitals and other providers will help ensure patients get the most appropriate care and will relieve stress on front-line health care workers.”