Hospital discharges to post-acute care on rise

The annual number of patients discharged from U.S. community hospitals to home health care rose 53% between 1997 and 2006, while the number discharged to long-term care and other facilities rose 30%, according to a new report from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).

According to AHRQ, the increases in part reflect the rising number of hospital patients who are acutely ill. Total annual discharges from community hospitals rose 14% over the period, while Medicaid discharges grew 36%, uninsured discharges grew 34% and Medicare discharges grew 17%. The data are from the 2006 Nationwide Inpatient Sample, part of AHRQ's Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project.

To see the report, go to www.hcup-us.ahrq.gov/reports/factsandfigures/HAR_2006.pdf.