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J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2011 Dec;66(12):1321-7. doi: 10.1093/gerona/glr171. Epub 2011 Oct 3.

Risk of continued institutionalization after hospitalization in older adults.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, Sealy Center on Aging, University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston 77555-0177, USA.



Little is known about the role of hospitalization as a risk factor for placement into long-term care. We therefore sought to estimate the percentage of long-term care nursing home stays precipitated by a hospitalization and factors associated with risk of nursing home placement after hospitalization.


We studied a retrospective cohort of a 5% sample of Medicare enrollees aged ≥ 66 years. The study included 762,243 patients admitted 1,149,568 times in January-April of 1996-2008, with 3,880,292 nonhospitalized controls. We measured residence in a nursing home 6 months after hospitalization.


From 1996 through 2008, 5.55% of hospitalized patients resided in a nursing home 6 months later compared with 0.54% of nonhospitalized control patients. Three quarters of new nursing home placements were precipitated by a hospitalization. Independent risk factors for long-term care placement after hospitalization included advanced age (odds ratio [OR] = 3.56 for age 85-94 vs. 66-74 years), female gender (OR = 1.41), dementia (OR = 6.15), and discharge from the hospital to a skilled nursing facility (SNF; OR = 10.83). Having a primary care physician was associated with reduced odds (OR = 0.75). In the adjusted analyses, risk of institutionalization after hospitalization decreased 4% per year from 1996 to 2008. There were very large geographic variations in rates of long-term care after hospitalization, from < 2% in some hospital referral regions to > 13% in others for patients > 75 years in 2007-2008.


Most placements in nursing homes are preceded by a hospitalization followed by discharge to a SNF. Discharge to a SNF is associated with a high risk of subsequent long-term care.

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