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LKP Yap, KHK Ow, JYR Hui, WS Pang
Correspondence: Dr L K P Yap, firstname.lastname@example.org
Aim To determine the size of the problem of premature discharge in a community hospital (CH) and to ascertain the reasons for it.
Method A retrospective review of all admissions in year 2000 which resulted in premature discharge i.e. discharge within one week of admission, was conducted in a community hospital, St Luke's Hospital for the Elderly. Information collected on the selected cases included biodata, reason for CH stay, admitting diagnosis, source of admission, duration of stay and reason for terminating stay prematurely. For cases which required acute hospital transfer or ended in death in the CH, the type and day of onset of the respective medical problems were documented.
Results Out of 924 admissions in year 2000, 12% resulted in premature discharge. Within this category of patients, 54% were discharged within the first three days and median duration of stay was three days. Majority of the admissions were for rehabilitation (83%) and respite care (15%). Neurological (60%) and orthopaedic (18%) problems constituted the bulk of the admitting diagnoses. The main reason for premature discharge was acute hospital transfer (90%) for medically unstable patients and those with unresolved medical problems.
Conclusion Premature discharge in the CH is an important issue and the greater cause lies in the need to transfer medically unstable patients or patients with unresolved medical problems back to the acute hospital. Stricter enforcement of admission criteria into CHs, increased vigilance on the part of acute hospitals and implementation of subacute care in CH can be solutions to the problem.
Keywords: premature discharge, community hospital, subacute care, intermediate care, rehabilitation
Singapore Med J 2002; 43(9): 470-475