The expedited discharge of patients with multiple traumatic rib fractures is cost-effective

Michael K. Dalton, Michael J. Minarich, Kimberly J. Twaddell, Joshua P. Hazelton, Nicole M. Fox

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Introduction: Rib fractures are a cause of significant morbidity and mortality in trauma patients. It is well documented that optimizing pain control, mobilization, and respiratory care decreases complications. However, the impact of these interventions on hospital costs and length of stay is not well defined. We hypothesized patients with multiple rib fractures can be discharged within three hospital days resulting in decreased hospital costs. Methods: A retrospective review of adult patients (≥18yrs) admitted to our Level 1 trauma center (2011–2013) with ≥2 rib fractures was performed. Patients were excluded if they were intubated, admitted to the ICU, required chest tube placement, or sustained significant multi-system trauma. (n = 202) Demographics, clinical characteristics, hospital costs, and outcome data were analyzed. Patients discharged within three hospital days of admission were considered to have achieved expedited discharge (ED). Univariate and multivariate analyses determined predictors of failure to achieve ED. A p value of <0.05 was considered significant. Results: Study patients (n = 202) were 60 (SD = 19) years of age with an injury severity score (ISS) of 10 (SD = 5), and 4 (SD = 2) rib fractures. Of 202 patients, 127 (63%) achieved ED while 75 (37%) did not. No differences in chest AIS, ISS, smoking status or history of pulmonary disease were identified between the two groups (all p > 0.05). Average LOS (2 (SD = 1) vs. 7 (SD = 4) days; p < 0.001) and hospital costs ($2865 (SD = 1200) vs. $6085 (SD = 3033)); p < 0.001). were lower in the ED group A lower percentage of ED patients required placement in rehabilitation facilities (6% vs. 48%; p < 0.001). There were no readmissions within 30 days in either group. After controlling for potential confounding variables, multiple variable logistic regression analysis revealed that advancing age (OR 1.05 per year, 1.02–1.07) independently predicted failure to achieve ED. Conclusion: The majority of patients admitted to the hospital with multiple rib fractures can be discharged within three days. This expedited discharge results in significant cost savings to the hospital. Early identification of patients who cannot meet the goal of expedited discharge can facilitate improvement in management strategies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)109-112
Number of pages4
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Emergency Medicine
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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