What is a Long-Term Acute Care Hospital (LTACH)?

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Oct 08, 2015

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Idaho - Boise and the Treasure Valley

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What is a Long-Term Acute Care Hospital (LTACH)?
A Long Term Acute Care Hospital (LTACH) that provides specialized medical, nursing and rehabilitation services for patients who need more advanced care for their recovery process, but who no longer require services at a traditional hospital. Patients typically have a chronic or medically complex medical condition that requires hospitalization for an average of 25 days or more in a facility that offers a 24/7 specialized treatment program.

Long term often leads people to assume that its similar to a long-term facility (Nursing Home), but a more accurate description of an LTACH, would be a post-acute care hospital. The main difference between a traditional hospital and an LTACH is the length of stay. Traditional hospitals are focused on caring for a patient for an average of four to five days, where initial surgical interventions and diagnostic procedures are performed, while a long term acute care hospital typically cares for a patient an average of 25 days.

The purpose of a LTACH is to provide critical care-level services but with a stronger recovery and rehabilitative focus permitted by the longer length of stay. Patients referred to an LTACH must meet an admission criteria designated by their insurer including Medicare, Medicaid and commercial insurers.

At an LTACH, patients can continue to receive intensive interventions, such as ventilator weaning, cardiac monitoring, aggressive wound management, antibiotic infusions, TPN, while being managed by a coordinated patient care team. Long term acute care hospitals offer specialized programs for patients who require ventilator-weaning, wound care, infectious disease management, or intensive management of medically complex conditions. Typical services include daily management and rounding by Hospitalists and/or Pulmonologists, telemetry, laboratory, pharmacy, radiology, respiratory therapy, rehabilitation, dialysis, and an intensive staff-to patient ratio.

For those looking to understand what services and conditions may be available for treatment at an LTACH, the following are the most common:

Ventilator-Weaning
Respiratory Failure
Wounds
Medically Complex
Amputation
Cardiovascular Disease
COPD
CHF
Head Injury/Trauma
Infectious Diseases (including MRSA, VRE)
Malnutrition
Pneumonia
Post-Operative Patients
Renal Disease/Failure
Spinal Cord Injury
Stroke
Trauma

Most common questions about LTACH Services:

Is an LTACH like a nursing home? Not at all. Patients in a Long Term Acute Care Hospital are too medically complex for nursing homes to typically accept. LTACHs provide daily physician management, 24 hour nursing care, pharmacy in-house, radiology, dialysis, 24 hour respiratory therapy, and 6 day a week rehabilitation therapy. In addition, admission to an LTACH avoids using precious skilled nursing facility days granted by Medicare.

Is LTACH like hospice? Hospice care is primarily for those not expected to recover and have a terminal illness. In contrast, the Long Term Acute Care Hospital is for patients who can be treated, recover and then return home or to a lower level of care.

Written by Tammy Pettingill Director of Marketing Southwest Idaho Advanced Care Hospital

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