Hospitals discharge Medicare patients quicker and sicker than ever before.

In 1968, patients age 65 and older stayed in the hospital an average of 14.2 days. By 1982, that was down to 10.1 days. Now it only 6.4 days.


  • Medicare is under constant pressure from Congress to cut expenses. Now, Medicare benefits pay a hospital the same fixed fee for each patient with a particular medical condition — even if one patient's condition is more severe than another's. If a patient stays too long, the hospital has to pay the extra costs out of its own pocket. But, the shorter a patient stays, the more money the hospital gets to keep.

How bad has the situation become?

  • According to The Wall Street Journal, "Nearly one in five people admitted to hospitals with broken hips are discharged before all of their vital signs are stable — . Those patients are far more likely to die or be readmitted to the hospital within two months."


  • To protect you, Medicare guarantees you certain rights if you think you are being asked to leave the hospital too soon. Unfortunately, these rights are given to you along with all the other papers a hospital makes you sign when you are admitted. So, they are usually lost in the shuffle, with most people never realizing how important they are. Hospitals sometimes take advantage of that fact.


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