Are medical outliers associated with worse patient outcomes? A retrospective study within a regional NHS hospital using routine data.
BMJ Open. 2017 May 09;7(5):e015676
Authors: Stylianou N, Fackrell R, Vasilakis C
OBJECTIVE: To explore the quality and safety of patients' healthcare provision by identifying whether being a medical outlier is associated with worse patient outcomes. A medical outlier is a hospital inpatient who is classified as a medical patient for an episode within a spell of care and has at least one non-medical ward placement within that spell.
DATA SOURCES: Secondary data from the Patient Administration System of a district general hospital were provided for the financial years 2013/2014-2015/2016. The data included 71 038 medical patient spells for the 3-year period.
STUDY DESIGN: This research was based on a retrospective, cross-sectional observational study design. Multivariate logistic regression and zero-truncated negative binomial regression were used to explore patient outcomes (in-hospital mortality, 30-day mortality, readmissions and length of stay (LOS)) while adjusting for several confounding factors.
PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: Univariate analysis indicated that an outlying medical in-hospital patient has higher odds for readmission, double the odds of staying longer in the hospital but no significant difference in the odds of in-hospital and 30-day mortality. Multivariable analysis indicates that being a medical outlier does not affect mortality outcomes or readmission, but it does prolong LOS in the hospital.
CONCLUSIONS: After adjusting for other factors, medical outliers are associated with an increased LOS while mortality or readmissions are not worse than patients treated in appropriate specialty wards. This is in line with existing but limited literature that such patients experience worse patient outcomes. Hospitals may need to revisit their policies regarding outlying patients as increased LOS is associated with an increased likelihood of harm events, worse quality of care and increased healthcare costs.
PMID: 28490563 [PubMed - in process]