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Hospital Discharges to Home Health, Nursing Homes Increasing

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AHRQ News and Numbers

Release date: October 23, 2008

The rate of patients discharged from hospitals but who still needed home health care increased 53 percent (from 2 million to 4 million) between 1997 and 2006, according to the latest News and Numbers from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. There was a 30 percent increase (from 4 million to 5 million) in the rate of patients discharged to nursing homes or rehabilitation facilities during the same period.

The increase in discharges to home health care and nursing homes reflects the rising number of hospital patients who are acutely ill or cannot take care of themselves after being discharged from the hospital, according to AHRQ. 

AHRQ's analysis of hospital discharges between 1997 and 2006 showed:

  • Overall, hospitals discharges for all conditions rose from roughly 35 million to 40 million—a 14 percent increase.
  • Discharges for patients who did not need any additional care increased only 9 percent, from about 27 million to 29 million.
  • The number of patients who died while in the hospital fell from 852,000 to 805,000—a 5 percent decrease.

This AHRQ News and Numbers summary is based on data in HCUP Facts and Figures, 2006, which provides highlights of the latest data from the 2006 Nationwide Inpatient Sample, a part of AHRQ's Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project.  The report provides data on leading reasons for hospitalization, such as arthritis, asthma, childbirth, cancer, diabetes, depression, and heart conditions, on procedures performed on hospital patients, and on related topics.

For other information, or to speak with an AHRQ data expert, please contact Bruce Seeman at, (301) 427-1998.

Current as of October 2008


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