Background: Resident duty hour reforms of 2003 had the potential to create a major impact on the delivery of inpatient care.
Objective: We examine whether the reforms influenced the probability of a patient experiencing a prolonged hospital length of stay (PLOS), a measure reflecting either inefficiency of care or the development of complications that may slow the rate of discharge.
Research design: Conditional logistic models to compare PLOS in more versus less teaching-intensive hospitals before and after the reform, adjusting for patient comorbidities, common time trends, and hospital site.
Subjects: Medicare (N = 6,059,015) and Veterans Affairs (VA) (N = 210,276) patients admitted for medical conditions (acute myocardial infarction, heart failure, stroke, or gastrointestinal bleeding) or surgical procedures (general, orthopedic, and vascular) from July 2000 to June 2005.
Measures: Prolonged length of stay.
Results: Modeling all medical conditions together, the odds of prolonged stay in the first year post reform at more versus less teaching intensive hospitals was 1.01 (95% CI: 0.97-1.05) for Medicare and 1.07 (0.94-1.20) for the VA. Results were similarly negative in the second year post reform. For "combined surgery" the post year 1 odds ratios were 1.04 (0.98-1.09) and 0.94 (0.78-1.14) for Medicare and the VA respectively, and similarly unchanged in post year 2. Isolated increases in the probability of prolonged stay did occur for some vascular surgery procedures.
Conclusions: Hospitals generally found ways to cope with duty hour reform without increasing the prevalence of prolonged hospital stays, a marker of either inefficient care or complications.