Patient deaths during the period of prolonged stay in cases of delayed discharge for nonclinical reasons at a university hospital: a cross sectional study

PeerJ. 2022 Jun 17:10:e13596. doi: 10.7717/peerj.13596. eCollection 2022.


Background: Delayed discharge for non-clinical reasons also affects patients in need of palliative care. Moreover, the number of people dying in hospitals has been increasing in recent years. Our aim was to describe characteristics of patients who died during prolonged stay, in comparison with the rest of patients with delayed discharge, in terms of length of hospital stay, patient characteristics and the context of care.

Methods: A descriptive cross-sectional study at a high complexity public hospital in Northern Spain (2007-2015) was conducted. To compare the differential characteristics of the groups of patients died during delayed discharge with the rest, Student's T test and Pearson's chi-square test (χ 2) were used.

Results: A total of 198 patients died (6.57% of the total), with a mean total stay of 27.45 days and a prolonged stay of 10.69 days. Mean age 77.27 years. These were highly complex cases, 77.79% resided in the urban area, were admitted urgently (95.45%), to internal medicine or oncology wards, and the most common diagnosis was pneumonia. In people with terminal illness, clinicians can better identify when therapeutic possibilities are exhausted and acute hospitalization is not an adequate resource for their needs. Living in an urban area with the availability of palliative care hospital beds is related to the decision to die in hospital.

Keywords: Length of stay; Mortality; Palliative care; Patient discharge; Patient transfer.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Hospitalization*
  • Hospitals, University
  • Humans
  • Length of Stay
  • Patient Discharge*

Grants and funding

This research has been funded by the Valdecilla Health Research Institute (IDIVAL). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.