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Challenging weekend discharges associated with excess length of stay in surgical patients at Veterans Affairs hospitals.

Rajasingh CM, Graham LA, Richman J, Mell MW, Morris MS, Hawn MT. Challenging weekend discharges associated with excess length of stay in surgical patients at Veterans Affairs hospitals. Surgery. 2022 Feb 1; 171(2):405-410.

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BACKGROUND: Challenging discharges can lead to prolonged hospital stays. We hypothesized that surgical patients discharged from Veterans Affairs hospitals on weekdays have longer hospital stays and greater excess length of stay. METHODS: We identified inpatient general and vascular procedures at Veterans Affairs hospitals from 2007 to 2014. Expected length of stay was calculated using a stratified negative binomial model adjusted for patient/operative characteristics. Excess length of stay was defined as the difference between observed and expected length of stay. RESULTS: We identified 135,875 patients (80.4% weekday discharges, 19.6% weekend discharges). The average length of stay was 7.5 days. Patients with weekday discharges spent on average 2.5 more days in the hospital compared with patients discharged on weekends (8.0 vs. 5.5 days, P < .001); 28.5% of patients with weekday discharges had an observed length of stay at least 1 day longer than expected, compared with 16.4% of patients with weekend discharges (P < .001). CONCLUSION: Surgical patients are less frequently discharged from Veterans Affairs hospitals on the weekends than during the week, and this corresponds to an increased excess length of stay for patients ultimately discharged on weekdays. Exploring the opportunity to coordinate safe weekend discharges may improve efficiency of post-surgery hospital care and reduce healthcare costs.

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