It is unclear how outcomes of care for patients hospitalized for pneumonia have changed as patterns of health care delivery have changed during the 1990s. This study was performed to determine trends in outcomes of care for older patients hospitalized for pneumonia.
This retrospective analysis was based on Medicare claims and included most patients with pneumonia who were older than 65 years and admitted to acute care hospitals in Connecticut between October 1, 1991, and September 30, 1997 (fiscal years 1992-1997). We assessed the trends in hospital costs, discharge destination, hospital mortality rates, mortality rates within 30 days of discharge, and 30-day readmission rates for pneumonia. Multivariate logistic regression analyses were used to adjust for differences in patient characteristics.
The mean (± SD) length of stay declined from 11.9 + 11.4 days to 7.7 + 7.2 days between 1992 and 1997. During this period, adjusted in-hospital mortality rates declined (P = .02), while the adjusted risk of discharge to a nursing facility increased (P<.001) and the adjusted risk of hospital readmission for pneumonia within 30 days of discharge increased (P = .05). The adjusted risk of death 30 days after discharge increased, although the difference was not statistically significant (P = .09).
Between 1992 and 1997, the adjusted risks of mortality after discharge, placement in a nursing facility, and hospital readmission for pneumonia increased among older patients hospitalized for pneumonia, in association with a decline in mean hospital length of stay. These findings raise the question of whether the declining hospital length of stay has negatively affected patient outcomes.