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UNLABELLED: Delayed discharges represent an inefficient use of acute hospital beds. Social isolation and referral to a public-funded rehabilitation unit were significant predictors of delayed discharges while admission from an institution was a protective factor for older hip fracture patients. Preventing delays could save between 11.2 and 30.7 % of total hospital costs for this patient group. INTRODUCTION: Delayed discharges of older patients from acute care hospitals are a major challenge for administrative, humanitarian, and economic reasons. At the same time, older people are particularly vulnerable to social isolation which has a detrimental effect on their health and well-being with cost implications for health and social care services. The purpose of the present study was to determine the impact and costs of social isolation on delayed hospital discharge. METHODS: A prospective study of 278 consecutive patients aged 75 or older with hip fracture admitted, as an emergency, to the Orthopaedics Department of Hospital Universitário de Santa Maria, Portugal, was conducted. A logistic regression model was used to examine the impact of relevant covariates on delayed discharges, and a negative binomial regression model was used to examine the main drivers of days of delayed discharges. Costs of delayed discharges were estimated using unit costs from national databases. RESULTS: Mean age at admission was 85.5 years and mean length of stay was 13.1 days per patient. Sixty-two (22.3 %) patients had delayed discharges, resulting in 419 bed days lost (11.5 % of the total length of stay). Being isolated or at a high risk of social isolation, measured with the Lubben social network scale, was significantly associated with delayed discharges (odds ratio (OR) 3.5) as was being referred to a public-funded rehabilitation unit (OR 7.6). These two variables also increased the number of days of delayed discharges (2.6 and 4.9 extra days, respectively, holding all else constant). Patients who were admitted from an institution were less likely to have delayed discharges (OR 0.2) with 5.5 fewer days of delay. Total costs of delayed discharges were between 11.2 and 30.7 % of total costs (€2352 and €9317 per patient with delayed discharge) conditional on whether waiting costs for placement in public-funded rehabilitation unit were included. CONCLUSION: High risk of social isolation, social isolation and referral to public-funded rehabilitation units increase delays in patients' discharges from acute care hospitals.

Original publication




Journal article


Osteoporos Int

Publication Date





737 - 745


Costs, Delayed discharge, Hip fracture, Older, Social isolation, Aged, Aged, 80 and over, Female, Health Care Costs, Health Services Research, Hip Fractures, Hospital Costs, Hospitalization, Humans, Length of Stay, Male, Patient Discharge, Portugal, Prospective Studies, Referral and Consultation, Rehabilitation Centers, Social Isolation, Socioeconomic Factors