Hospital Stays Down

April 25, 2001 ( - The average length of a hospital stay in the US declined from more than 7 days in 1980 to 5 days in 1999, which could mean lower healthcare expenses for employers.

The results came from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which noted that the decline is largely the result of an increase in “same-day” outpatient surgery and the advent of less-invasive procedures.

Other factors contributing to the decline include:

  • new drug therapies
  • cost-management controls
  • alternative forms of healthcare organization and payment

Heart disease is the most frequent cause of hospitalization, with 4.5 million discharges out of 32 million hospitalizations in 1999, according to the CDC. Next most common reasons were:

  • child birth
  • pneumonia
  • cancer
  • psychotic episodes
  • fractures

The rate of hospitalizations has also dropped since 1980 ? by nearly 30% – to 122 per 1,000 people last year from 168 per 1,000 in 1980.

During the 1990s, the hospital discharge rate increased among older patients, a factor offset by a decrease in hospitalizations among younger people, leaving the rate stabilized.