The number of patients who needed home health care after being discharged from hospitals surged by about 70%, (2.3 million to 4 million patients) from 1997 to 2008, according to the latest News and Numbers from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), Rockville, Md.

In contrast, the number of patients routinely discharged to their homes without the need for additional care grew by less than 8%, (27 million to 29 million patients), during the period.

The federal agency also found during 1997-2008:

• Some 5 million hospital patients were discharged to nursing homes and other long-term care facilities – an increase of 35% (from 3.7 million to 5 million).
• There was a 40% increase in the number of patients (264,000 to 370,000) who left the hospital against medical advice.
• Hospitals transferred an additional 4% of patients to other hospitals (846,000 to 878,000 )
• Fewer patients died in the hospital – a decrease of 5% (from 852,000 to 811,000).

This AHRQ News and Numbers summary is based on Exhibit 1.5 in HCUP Facts and Figures 2008, which provides highlights of the latest data from the 2008 Nationwide Inpatient Sample, a part of AHRQ’s Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project.

[Source: AHRQ]