Objectives: This report presents national estimates of the use of non-Federal short-stay hospitals in the United States during 2004 and selected trend data. Numbers and rates of discharges, diagnoses, and procedures are shown by age and sex. Average lengths of stay are presented for all discharges and for selected diagnostic categories by age and by sex.
Methods: The estimates are based on medical abstract data collected through the 2004 National Hospital Discharge Survey (NHDS). The survey has been conducted annually by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) since 1965. Diagnoses and procedures presented are coded using the International Classification of Diseases, 9th Revision, Clinical Modification, or ICD-9-CM.
Results: Trends in the utilization of non-Federal short-stay hospitals show that the rate of hospitalization of the elderly (those 65 years and over) increased 24 percent from 1970 through 2004 despite a decrease in the 1980s. The rates for the other age groups declined overall. In 2004, those 65 years and over comprised 12 percent of the U.S. population, 38 percent of all hospital discharges, and used 44 percent of all inpatient days of care. In 2004, there were an estimated 34.9 million hospital discharges, excluding newborn infants. The average length of stay was 4.8 days for all inpatients and 5.6 days for the elderly. Almost one-half of hospital stays for heart disease had a first-listed discharge diagnosis of either congestive heart failure (25 percent) or coronary atherosclerosis (24 percent). There were 45 million procedures performed on inpatients during 2004. From 1995 through 2004, for those 65 years and over, the rate of hip replacements increased 38 percent, and the rate of knee replacements increased 70 percent. One-quarter of all procedures performed on females were obstetrical. Almost one-quarter of all procedures performed on males were cardiovascular.