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      The Short Stay Unit as a new option for hospitals: A review of the scientific literature

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          The short stay unit (SSU) is a ward providing targeted care for patients requiring brief hospitalization and dischargeable as soon as clinical conditions are resolved. Therefore, SSU is an alternative to the ordinary ward (OW) for the treatment of selected patients. The SSU model has been tested in only a few hospitals, and the literature lacks systematic evaluation of the impact of SSU use. The aim of our study was to evaluate the use of SSUs in terms of length of hospital stay, mortality and readmission rate.


          A random effect meta-analysis was carried out by consulting electronic databases. Studies were selected that focused on comparison between use of SSUs and OWs. Mean difference of length of stay was calculated within 95% confidence intervals.


          Six articles were selected, for a total of 21 264 patients. The estimated mean difference was −3.06 days (95% CI −4.71, −1.40) in favor of the SSU. The selected articles did not show any differences in terms of mortality and readmission rate.


          Use of SSUs could reduce patient length of stay in hospital, representing an alternative to the ordinary ward for selected patients. A shorter period of hospitalization could reduce the risk of hospital-acquired infections, increase patient satisfaction and yield more efficient use of hospital beds. Findings of this study are useful for institutional, managerial and clinical decision-makers regarding the implementation of the SSU in a hospital setting, and for better management of continuity of care.

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          Most cited references 43

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          Effectiveness and safety of an emergency department short-stay unit as an alternative to standard inpatient hospitalisation.

          Emergency department short-stay units (EDSSUs) are currently emerging worldwide as an alternative to standard inpatient hospitalisation. In our hospital, a 960-bed teaching tertiary institution in Barcelona, Spain, an EDSSU has been in operation during winter periods (November-March) since 1997. To determine the efficacy and safety of our EDSSU. Retrospective analysis of activity and quality outcomes, assessment of patient satisfaction levels and determination of the diagnostic-related groups that were mainly responsible for admissions to the EDSSU, comparing the clinical characteristics of those patients with the characteristics of patients with similar clinical diagnoses admitted to standard hospitalisation units. 5666 patients were treated in the EDSSU, with a progressive increase in the number of patients admitted per period, ranging from 707 in 1997-8 to 1227 in 2003-4 (73.5% increase). The mean length of stay ranged from 3.1 to 2.8 days, mortality from 2.5% to 5.1%, home discharge rate from 84% to 90%, and hospital readmission rate within the first week after discharge from 3.9% to 6.2%. In all, 98% of patients were satisfied with their stay at the EDSSU. The main diagnostic-related groups were chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD = 50%) and acute heart failure (28%). Patients with COPD admitted at the EDSSU (n = 545) showed significantly (p = 0.05) lower mean length of stay (3.4 v 12 days) and mortality (1.7% v 8.1%), but a higher hospital readmission rate (9.9% v 7%) than those admitted to standard inpatient units (n = 1961). In our experience, the EDSSU proved to be an effective and safe alternative to standard inpatient hospitalisation.
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            Appropriateness in health care delivery: definitions, measurement and policy implications.

            A major focus of the current health care debate is the notion that a substantial proportion of the health care delivered in Canada is inappropriate. There are two types of appropriateness: appropriateness of a service and appropriateness of the setting in which care is provided (i.e., inpatient v. outpatient or home care). Measuring both types objectively requires the comparison of observed patterns of care with explicit criteria for appropriate care. The few studies of appropriateness conducted in Canada have shown that inappropriate services are provided and inappropriate settings are used. Reducing inappropriate health care delivery could involve active strategies for the implementation of guidelines and better cooperation and coordination within the health care system. However, lower rates of health care delivery or even inappropriate health care will not necessarily translate into higher quality care or lower costs overall.
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              A qualitative examination of inappropriate hospital admissions and lengths of stay

              Background Research has shown that a number of patients, with a variety of diagnoses, are admitted to hospital when it is not essential and can remain in hospital unnecessarily. To date, research in this area has been primarily quantitative. The purpose of this study was to explore the perceived causes of inappropriate or prolonged lengths of stay and focuses on a specific population (i.e., patients with long term neurological conditions). We also wanted to identify interventions which might avoid admission or expedite discharge as periods of hospitalisation pose particular risks for this group. Methods Two focus groups were conducted with a convenience sample of eight primary and secondary care clinicians working in the Derbyshire area. Data were analysed using a thematic content approach. Results The participants identified a number of key causes of inappropriate admissions and lengths of stay, including: the limited capacity of health and social care resources; poor communication between primary and secondary care clinicians and the cautiousness of clinicians who manage patients in community settings. The participants also suggested a number of strategies that may prevent inappropriate admissions or reduce length of stay (LoS), including: the introduction of new sub-acute care facilities; the introduction of auxiliary nurses to support specialist nursing staff and patient held summaries of specialist consultations. Conclusion Clinicians in both the secondary and primary care sectors acknowledged that some admissions were unnecessary and some patients remain in hospital for a prolonged period. These events were attributed to problems with the current capacity or structuring of services. It was noted, for example, that there is a shortage of appropriate therapeutic services and that the distribution of beds between community and sub-acute care should be reviewed.

                Author and article information

                Med Sci Monit
                Med. Sci. Monit
                Medical Science Monitor
                Medical Science Monitor : International Medical Journal of Experimental and Clinical Research
                International Scientific Literature, Inc.
                01 June 2011
                : 17
                : 6
                : SR15-SR19
                [1 ]Department of Public Health Università Cattolica Sacro Cuore, Roma, Italy
                [2 ]San Filippo Neri Hospital Trust Roma, Roma, Italy
                Author notes
                Gianfranco Damiani, Department of Public Health Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Largo Francesco Vito, 100168 Roma, Italy, e-mail: gdamiani@ 123456rm.unicatt.it

                Study Design


                Data Collection


                Statistical Analysis


                Data Interpretation


                Manuscript Preparation


                Literature Search


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                © Med Sci Monit, 2011

                This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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