An epidemiological profile of in-patient workload in dermatology.
Ferguson JA., Goldacre MJ., Newton JN., Dawber RP.
Trends in admission rates, patterns of readmission, lengths of stay and clinical caseload for in-patient dermatology from 1976 to 1985 are described using data from the Oxford record-linkage study. Age-specific admission rates were considerably higher in people aged 50 years and over than in younger people. Admission rates declined over time in most age-sex groups below the age of 70 years, but increased over time for the over 70s. In dermatology, unlike most other specialties, the length of patients' stay did not decrease substantially over the 10 years. In-patient workload consisted predominantly of leg ulcers, psoriasis, and eczema. This did not change appreciably over time. New out-patients at dermatology clinics rose by 41% from 1976 to 1985, and all out-patient visits rose by 20% during the 10-year period. Because the profile of in-patient workload changed relatively little over time, we speculate that the impact of innovations in dermatological practice has been much greater in the ambulatory setting than in the management of those patients requiring prolonged in-patient care. Future routine measures of workload in dermatology should include demographic and clinical data on out-patients.