The majority of inpatients -- 57% -- stayed in the hospital for no more than three days in 2001, but 16% had stays exceeding a week, according to new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Some 27% of inpatient stays in 2001 lasted four to seven days. The average length of stay declined steadily in the past three decades to 4.9 days in 2001 from 7.8 days in 1970. Heart disease continued to be the single biggest cause of hospitalizations, accounting for 4.3 million, or just more than 13%, of the nation's 32.7 million hospital discharges in 2001. Other major reasons for hospitalization were psychosis, 1.6 million discharges; pneumonia, 1.3 million discharges; cancer, 1.2 million discharges; and bone fractures, 1 million discharges. Reflecting improved success in treating acute heart disease, hospital stays for congestive heart failure among people age 65 and older increased 62% from 1980 to 2001. Read the CDC report. -- by Julie Piotrowski
Most inpatient stays less than three days: CDC
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