J Hosp Med. 2023 Aug 7. doi: 10.1002/jhm.13186. Online ahead of print.
BACKGROUND: Annually more than 300,000 patients hospitalized for pneumonia need postacute care. Patients and systems prefer home discharge, but physical limitations often necessitate postacute care. It is unknown whether frequency of physical therapy in the hospital affects postacute care discharges.
OBJECTIVE: Examine the relationship between physical therapy visit frequency and disposition among a national sample of patients hospitalized with pneumonia.
DESIGNS: Observational cohort study.
SETTING: Acute care hospital.
PARTICIPANTS: Adult patients with primary diagnosis of pneumonia in the Premier Data Set who received physical therapy in the hospital during a 5-day window, with therapy on at least days 1 and 5.
INTERVENTION: Physical therapy visit frequency.
MAIN OUTCOME AND MEASURES: Discharge disposition (home or postacute care).
RESULTS: We included 18,886 patients from 595 hospitals. Just over half were discharged home (n = 9638; 51.0%) and 558 (2.95%) died. Patients getting more frequent therapy were older, non-Hispanic white, treated in small non-teaching rural hospitals in the West, Midwest, or South, and had fewer severe illness indicators. In adjusted models, patients who received physical therapy on 100% of days were 7% [(95% confidence interval, 4.3-9.7), p < .0001] more likely to go home than patients who received physical therapy on 40% of days. As a falsification test, we found that there was no relationship between physical therapy frequency and all-cause mortality. Physical therapy visit frequency was positively associated with discharge to home. Increasing visit frequency of physical therapy in hospitals might reduce the need for postacute care, but randomized controlled trials are needed to confirm the effect.