10 figures that show capacity issues' toll on hospitals

Hospitals nationwide are seeing greater volumes of high-acuity patients than they have in the past. That, coupled with labor shortages and little to no space at post-acute care facilities are fueling discharge delays and other hospital capacity challenges. 

Here are 10 numbers from reports this year that illustrate how capacity woes affect patients and hospital finances:

Nationally, patient stays increased by 19 percent in 2022 compared to 2019. This figure bumps up to 24 percent for patients who need to be discharged to post-acute facilities. 

A July 25 report from WellSKy, a healthcare software company, found average lengths of stay for hospitalized patients transitioning to skilled nursing facilities increased 12 percent between 2019 and 2022, and 11 percent for home health discharges. 

A June 12 report from the Massachusetts Health and Hospital Association revealed that 1 in 7 medical surgical beds across the state are occupied by patients who no longer need acute care. 

Between April and June of 2022, New York hospitals experienced about 60,000 discharge delay days. The estimated costs associated with the delays was $169 million, according to a report from the Healthcare Association of New York State. 

During a one-week period in December, patients eligible for transfer across 95 Minnesota hospitals received nearly 15,000 more days of care than necessary, according to a survey from the state's hospital association cited by the Star Tribune. This "discharge gridlock," cost hospitals about $2,500 each extra patient day, translating to nearly $37 million in unreimbursed costs.

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