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1.  Benchmarking and reducing length of stay in Dutch hospitals 
Background
To assess the development of and variation in lengths of stay in Dutch hospitals and to determine the potential reduction in hospital days if all Dutch hospitals would have an average length of stay equal to that of benchmark hospitals.
Methods
The potential reduction was calculated using data obtained from 69 hospitals that participated in the National Medical Registration (LMR). For each hospital, the average length of stay was adjusted for differences in type of admission (clinical or day-care admission) and case mix (age, diagnosis and procedure). We calculated the number of hospital days that theoretically could be saved by (i) counting unnecessary clinical admissions as day cases whenever possible, and (ii) treating all remaining clinical patients with a length of stay equal to the benchmark (15th percentile length of stay hospital).
Results
The average (mean) length of stay in Dutch hospitals decreased from 14 days in 1980 to 7 days in 2006. In 2006 more than 80% of all hospitals reached an average length of stay shorter than the 15th percentile hospital in the year 2000. In 2006 the mean length of stay ranged from 5.1 to 8.7 days. If the average length of stay of the 15th percentile hospital in 2006 is identified as the standard that other hospitals can achieve, a 14% reduction of hospital days can be attained. This percentage varied substantially across medical specialties. Extrapolating the potential reduction of hospital days of the 69 hospitals to all 98 Dutch hospitals yielded a total savings of 1.8 million hospital days (2006). The average length of stay in Dutch hospitals if all hospitals were able to treat their patients as the 15th percentile hospital would be 6 days and the number of day cases would increase by 13%.
Conclusion
Hospitals in the Netherlands vary substantially in case mix adjusted length of stay. Benchmarking – using the method presented – shows the potential for efficiency improvement which can be realized by decreasing inputs (e.g. available beds for inpatient care). Future research should focus on the effect of length of stay reduction programs on outputs such as quality of care.
doi:10.1186/1472-6963-8-220
PMCID: PMC2582034  PMID: 18950476
2.  Mortality in Dutch hospitals: Trends in time, place and cause of death after admission for myocardial infarction and stroke. An observational study 
Background
Patterns in time, place and cause of death can have an important impact on calculated hospital mortality rates. Objective is to quantify these patterns following myocardial infarction and stroke admissions in Dutch hospitals during the period 1996–2003, and to compare trends in the commonly used 30-day in-hospital mortality rates with other types of mortality rates which use more extensive follow-up in time and place of death.
Methods
Discharge data for all Dutch admissions for index conditions (1996–2003) were linked to the death certification registry. Then, mortality rates within the first 30, 90 and 365 days following admissions were analyzed for deaths occurring within and outside hospitals.
Results
Most deaths within a year after admission occurred within 30 days (60–70%). No significant trends in this distribution of deaths over time were observed. Significant trends in the distribution over place of death were observed for both conditions. For myocardial infarction, the proportion of deaths after transfer to another hospital has doubled from 1996–2003. For stroke a significant rise of the proportion of deaths outside hospital was found. For MI the proportion of deaths attributed to a circulatory disease has significantly fallen ovtime. Seven types of hospital mortality indicators, different in scope and observation period, all show a drop of hospital mortality for both MI and stroke over the period 1996–2003. For stroke the observed absolute reduction in death rate increases for the first year after admission, for MI the observed drop in 365-day overall mortality almost equals the observed drop in 30-day in hospital mortality over 1996–2003.
Conclusion
Changes in the timing, place and causes of death following admissions for myocardial infarction and stroke have important implications for the definitions of in-hospital and post-admission mortality rates as measures of hospital performance. Although necessary for understanding mortality patterns over time, including within mortality rates deaths which occur outside hospitals and after longer periods following index admissions remain debatable and may not reflect actual hospital performance but probably mirrors transfer, efficiency, and other health care policies.
doi:10.1186/1472-6963-8-52
PMCID: PMC2311302  PMID: 18318897

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