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J Allied Health. 2008 Fall;37(3):162-8.

Use of physical therapy in patients hospitalized with a diagnosis of generalized weakness: a retrospective study.

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  • 1Center for Excellence in Surgical Outcomes, Department of Surgery, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC 27710, USA.


In a retrospective analysis of data from a national database, we observed and compared the presence of complications, lengths of stay, inflation-adjusted charges, and discharge statuses of two groups of patients hospitalized with a primary diagnosis of generalized weakness who did or did not receive physical therapy (PT) services. From a sample of patients (n = 38,991 cumulative from 1988 through 2003) from the Nationwide Inpatient Sample (NIS), 2.3% of patients admitted to the hospital with generalized weakness received PT intervention. Patients hospitalized with a primary diagnosis of generalized weakness who received PT services were sicker, had more selected secondary complications, and were demographically and socioeconomically dissimilar from patients who did not receive PT services. Quantitative analyses indicate that PT patients had longer inpatient hospital stays, more nonroutine discharges, and higher inflation-adjusted charges. The results are consistent with the interpretation that outcomes such as those examined here (nonroutine discharge, length of stay, and charges at discharge) are related to referral patterns in which only the most serious comorbidities qualify patients for referral for PT intervention services.

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