Objective: As ALS progresses, extensive supportive care is required, including multidisciplinary outpatient care and hospitalization. The authors studied the causes, health care utilization, and outcomes for hospitalized patients with ALS.
Methods: With use of the 1996 Nationwide Inpatient Sample, an administrative database representing 20% of U.S. hospitals, 1,600 hospitalizations in patients with ALS were identified and compared with 5,364,728 non-ALS hospitalizations.
Results: The most common concurrent diagnoses in patients with ALS were dehydration and malnutrition (574 patients, 36%), pneumonia (507 patients, 32%), and respiratory failure (398 patients, 25%). Only 38% of patients with ALS were discharged to home without home health care compared with 73% of patients with non-ALS. Fifteen percent of patients with ALS died in the hospital compared with 3% of non-ALS patients. The average length of hospital stay and charges were greater for patients with ALS than for non-ALS patients (8.4 days and $19,810 for ALS patients and 5.4 days and $11,924 for non-ALS patients). Mortality was significantly associated with emergency room admission (versus nonemergency admission; OR = 1.60), increasing age (per year; OR = 1.03), respiratory failure (OR = 3.37), and pneumonia (OR = 2.02) (p < 0.01 for all comparisons).
Conclusions: Patients with ALS have lengthy and costly hospital admissions, a high in-hospital mortality rate, and few routine discharges. Recognition of the issues that precipitate hospitalization may allow development of preventive strategies.