In the third quarter of 2008, almost half of respondents to Longbow Research's quarterly Acute Care Hospital Admissions survey reported an increase in admissions over the previous year. In the fourth quarter, only 13.3% had higher rates compared to 4Q07.

This dispiriting decline is accompanied by a similar drop in surgical volumes, including outpatient procedures: Only 26.7% of respondents showed any growth in inpatient surgery, down from 36.7% in the third quarter. More importantly, says Longbow's David Bachman, senior healthcare analyst, 40% reported year-over-year declines. On the outpatient side, more hospitals than ever before, 43.3%, reported falling surgical volumes in 4Q08.

So what's behind the year-over-year increase in total admissions at the 26.7% of hospitals reporting that happy news? Well, three-quarters of them added new physicians in the fourth quarter - unlike the majority of hospitals, which added none. In fact, says Bachman, almost 90% of respondents did not hire any new physicians since 3Q08 and 74.1% hadn't added to their ranks since 4Q07.

Source: Longbow Research, Acute Care Hospital Survey 2009. Used with permission.

You can reach David Bachman at

Publication Date: Friday, May 01, 2009