Medically ready for discharge: A multisite “point-in-time” assessment of hospitalized patients

Maralyssa Bann*, Nicholas Meo, J. P. Lopez, Amy Ou, Molly Rosenthal, Hussain Khawaja, Leigh A. Goodman, Melanie Barone, Bernice Coleman, Heidi J. High, Lori Overbeek, Pam Shelbourn, Lisa VerMaas, Amy Baughman, Adith Sekaran, Rachel Cyrus, Nathan O'Dorisio, Lane Beatty, Silvia Loica-Mersa, Alan KubeyRebecca Jaffe, Chad Vokoun, Kwame Koom-Dadzie, Kencee Graves, Matthew Tuck, Paul Helgerson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Background: Time spent awaiting discharge after the acute need for hospitalization has resolved is an important potential contributor to hospital length of stay (LOS). Objective: To measure the prevalence, impact, and context of patients who remain hospitalized for prolonged periods after completion of acute care needs. Design, Setting, and Participants: We conducted a cross-sectional “point-in-time” survey at each of 15 academic US hospitals using a structured data collection tool with on-service acute care medicine attending physicians in fall 2022. Main Outcomes and Measures: Primary outcomes were number and percentage of patients considered “medically ready for discharge” with emphasis on those who had experienced a “major barrier to discharge” (medically ready for discharge for ≥1 week). Estimated LOS attributable to major discharge barriers, contributory discharge needs, and associated hospital characteristics were measured. Results: Of 1928 patients sampled, 35.0% (n = 674) were medically ready for discharge including 9.8% (n = 189) with major discharge barriers. Many patients with major discharge barriers (44.4%; 84/189) had spent a month or longer medically ready for discharge and commonly (84.1%; 159/189) required some form of skilled therapy or daily living support services for discharge. Higher proportions of patients experiencing major discharge barriers were found in public versus private, nonprofit hospitals (12.0% vs. 7.2%; p =.001) and county versus noncounty hospitals (14.5% vs. 8.8%; p =.002). Conclusions: Patients experience major discharge barriers in many US hospitals and spend prolonged time awaiting discharge, often for support needs that may be outside of clinician control.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)795-802
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Hospital Medicine
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Fundamentals and skills
  • Care Planning
  • Assessment and Diagnosis
  • Health Policy
  • Leadership and Management
  • Internal Medicine


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