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Differences in length of stay for Hospital in the Home patients: comparing simple clinical coding with medical record review

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Aim: To determine whether the apparently longer length of stay (LOS) reported for patients with cellulitis managed in Hospital in the Home (HITH) compared with those managed as inpatients was correct.

Methods: Data, including LOS, from the Victorian In-patient Minimum Database (VIMD) of all patients with cellulitis managed between July 1998 and June 1999 at a large metropolitan teaching hospital were analysed and compared with a retrospective medical record review of the same patients.

Results: In the VIMD data, there were 266 episodes of cellulitis during the study period. However, the medical record review found that six episodes were not separate, but rather a continuation of treatment for the same episode of cellulitis, and that 18 were not episodes of cellulitis, but were pilonidal sinus infections. In the VIMD data set, the mean LOS for patients treated in HITH was generally longer than that for inpatients (7.2 days vs 5.1 days, respectively, P = 0.002). However, in the retrospective medical record review, the LOS for patients treated in HITH was similar to inpatients (7.3 days versus 7.0 days, respectively, P = 0.68).

Conclusions: In contrast to the VIMD data, the medical record review demonstrated that, overall, patients with cellulitis had a similar LOS irrespective of whether they were managed at home or in hospital. This study confirms that caution is required in interpreting the VIMD data, highlights the importance of carefully monitoring the introduction of new treatment modalities and indicates areas for further research. (Intern Med J 2001; 31: 142–145)
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Keywords: cellulitis; hospital-in-the-home; length of stay

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Victorian Centre for Ambulatory Care Innovation,

Publication date: 2001-04-01

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