Hospitals Discharge Patients Earlier on Busier Days

by VR Sreeraman on Sep 27 2008 12:07 PM

An American research group, including an Indian-origin expert, has found that patients are discharged earlier on days when hospitals face high demand.

Rajiv Sharma, Miron Stano, and Renu Gehring came to this conclusion after analysing Oregon hospital data to determine how hospital constraint could affect admission decisions and discharge decisions.

The researchers used around 380,000 records, comprising inpatient discharges.

For their study, the team used methods that were designed to detect discriminatory behaviour, without the need to control for differences across patient groups in their health status or care seeking behaviour.

Though the study revealed that patients were dismissed earlier on days when hospitals faced high demand, it did not find any evidence of discriminatory discharge behaviour.

"The need to reduce disparities in health and health care has emerged as a key policy priority," the authors note.

"We show that it is possible to detect discriminatory behaviour by hospitals by using widely available administrative data," they added.

The study has been published in the RAND Journal of Economics.