The number of U.S. public hospitals declined at a faster rate than private hospitals from 1996 to 2002, especially in suburban areas, and public hospitals treated patients for longer lengths of stay, according to a new study. The number of public hospitals in the suburbs of the nation's 100 largest cities fell 27% to 98 in 2002 from 134 in 1996. The number in the cities themselves dropped 16% during the same period, to 70 from 83. The number of private hospitals also shrank in both the top 100 cities and their suburbs, although not as rapidly, according to the study by State University of New York Downstate Medical Center, New York. The loss of private hospitals was 4% in suburban areas, as the total fell to 741 in 2002 from 772 in 1996, and 11% in the cities, as the total fell to 575 from 647. Public hospitals had an average stay of 5.8 days in the suburbs and 6.6 days in the cities in 2002, compared with an average for public and private hospitals of 5.1 days and 5.7 days, respectively Read the report. -- by Joseph Mantone
More public hospitals lost than private in recent years
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