01 June 2011
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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.