A single statement won’t explain what LTAC stands for. This is to say that we will give you a detailed explanation. So, you will learn a lot more than anticipated from this post.
What is LTAC?
Established in the 1980s, LTAC stands for Long Term Acute Care Hospital. It’s a hospital-grade facility for patients who need long-term care. Simply put, LTAC is designed to treat patients with critical issues.
They have a niche role to play in the health industry. Think about patients who do not need intensive or emergency care, but their health is not stable. These patients would still need some extensive care to get back to a normal state of living.
LTAC will offer a sophisticated level of care to such patients in need of complex care for several weeks and beyond. Basically, LTAC will keep delivering hospital-level care to patients till the patients recover fully. So, it’s common for patients to spend several weeks in an LTAC facility.
In fact, the stay period can even extend for many months and beyond. Oh yeah! Non-responsive or critically ill patients can live there for months and months. As expected, the LTAC hospitals have a very critical role to play because they normally deal with patients that require intensive care.
Simply put, LTAC hospitals provide better care to patients that meet their criteria of stay than a traditional hospital. With respect to medical specialties, they are not as ‘spread out’ as a conventional hospital, but patients that fit their specialization receive utmost care and attention at all times.
Of course, this isn’t to say that patients do not receive proper care/treatment in a traditional hospital. It’s just that LTAC facilities offer better care to patients that meet their specialization because they are set up for specialized treatment.
Patient Profile at LTAC:
Usually, ventilation-dependent patients are treated at LTAC hospitals. Those suffering from multiple organ failure are also treated at a facility of this nature. Patients with complex wounds, post-surgical complications, or even brain damage receive intensive care at an LTAC hospital. The average stay at an LTAC facility is approximately four weeks.
As expected, there is also a growing demand for LTAC in the aging population. The good news is that LTAC hospitals have a solid reputation for curing patients with severe illnesses because of how specialized their health care measures are. They may attend to a fairly small list of ailments, but the focus is on high standards. The effective recovery treatment process usually minimizes hospital readmissions.
After, the LTAC care focuses on providing continued medical attention to the patients till they are able to return to a fully functional lifestyle. This should explain why health experts suggest that LTAC care is conducive for individuals who need continuous intensive care. It’s not unusual for an LTAC patient to need some life support medical assistance.
Just to give you guys a better idea, the physicians at LTAC may be treating a 60-year-old man who fell down while using the stairs. The person must have broken many bones in the process. He may even have a collapsed lunge or a bruised heart due to the fall. As a result of the fall, he may be having plates and screws supporting his body.
Although he may be released from the acute care hospital, he will need still extensive care for several weeks and beyond to relearn how to walk, regain control of the body, and even breathe properly. For such ongoing and specialized treatments, LTAC can be the ideal solution to facilitate the recovery process after discharge from a traditional hospital.
LTAC Health Experts:
The health experts at LTAC hospitals include therapists, dieticians, nurses, and other specialists. They operate synergically to provide appropriate care to the patients at their centers. For those who don’t know, LTAC hospitals provide the following benefits.
-The cost of LTAC treatment is generally cheaper than a traditional hospital.
-They have significant resources to provide individualized care for many weeks.
-They are known to provide the most appropriate level of care for complex medical issues that require extensive care.
-Families choose LTAC because they provide aggressive care for a health condition, which results in better recovery.
-Patients benefit a lot from the ongoing treatment designed to improve the outcome of medically complex conditions.
Myths Surrounding LTAC:
1) LTAC are nursing homes
The general consensus is that LTAC hospitals are nursing homes, which is not true. The care offered at LTAC facilities is a cut above the scope. The type of personalized and intensive care that LTAC facilities offer is very different from that of a nursing home.
The LTAC facilities function along the lines of a full-fledged hospital. Each and every patient at LTAC hospitals are given different treatment and care for several weeks based on the complications. So, the specialized services are far better than the skilled nursing facilities out there. Not to mention that LTAC patients may probably be more ill than a nursing home’s ability to treat the patients.
Generally speaking, LTAC hospitals offer 24-hour physical coverage, which includes full nursing staff, dietary, pharmacy, laboratory, radiology, along with other specialized services on-site. At the same time, patients don’t live permanently over there like a nursing home. So, LTAC provides short-term acute care.
2) Long stay is a must
Generally speaking, most patients admitted at LTAC hospitals require several weeks of treatment. However, this may not be the case at all times. Some patients are released much sooner. As expected, the stay period depends on a lot of factors.
Right from the diagnosis, insurance, patient’s choice, and the facility’s acceptance, the patient’s discharge time can vary quite a bit. This is to say that there is no definite time period of stay. Needless to say, quickly recovering patients can get released even within a week.
That said, the general length of stay is usually greater than 25 days. Generally speaking, the physicians coordinate with the patients and tell them the estimated length of stay. Basically, a long hospital stay is not needed. Those recovering from minor accidents might take a quick exit.
Others that are critically ill will be there for several months at a stretch. Inevitably, the stay period is patient-dependent. As described earlier, it’s tied to the diagnoses, treatment, and even’s patient’s decision. Most will be too sick to leave early. But, LTAC hospitals discharge patients that recover quickly.
3) LTAC is like a Hospice
This notion is also not true. Although LTAC centers deal with fatal injuries and ailments, they generally treat patients who can recover. As you may already know, hospice care is given to patients who are not expected to recover and return home. In short, LTAC hospitals provide specialized treatment to patients who can recover well enough to return home.
4) LTAC don’t accept ICU-level patients
Contrary to popular belief, the LTAC staff is trained to treat ICU-level patients. Much like an ICU unit, an LTAC facility can take care of critically ill patients. LTAC patients benefit not only from daily physician visits but also from the presence of an onsite physician. Onsite 24/7 physicians are generally not available in a traditional hospital or nursing home.
In other words, LTAC can even attend to a patient with a complicated medical history. Just so that it’s known to everyone, patients can get admitted to an LTAC hospital from a doctor’s clinic or even from their home. Of course, it’s also not uncommon for patients to get referred to an LTAC directly from an ICU for ongoing treatment.
5) Insurance doesn’t pay for LTAC hospital treatment
Gladly enough, this is not the case. Insurance companies entertain LTAC hospital bills. In fact, most LTAC hospitals have a contract with all the leading insurance companies out there to ensure proper coverage. So, patients won’t have to fork out money from their own pockets. Insurance will pay for an LTAC.
It’s important to point out that ambulance services are generally not offered at an LTAC. Some LTAC may provide emergency room services, though. That said, it really depends on the LTAC center you are visiting. They often have a stand-by emergency room service, which is staffed by a physician and a nurse to attend to minor injuries, sprains, colds, flu, and things along the same lines.
Generally speaking, patients that require acute care for the longer term are considered to be a perfect fit for LTAC care. LTAC facilities bridge the gap between traditional hospitals and rehab centers. Even though they have the same accreditation, licensing, and certification standards as conventional hospitals, the enhanced care that one receives at an LTAC facility is almost second to none.
As expected, the coordinated care plan usually results in quicker recovery. Reliable reports suggest that such type of acute care reduces hospital readmissions by almost 25 to 45%. Not to mention that the cost per head at LTAC hospitals is usually cheaper than traditional hospitals by approximately 25 to 35%.