Plain talk information about LTACH, Long Term Acute Care Hospitals

I need to know about: Long Term Acute Care Hospitals

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Page One: Plain talk about Long Term Acute Care Hospitals, LTACH

You will be reading and hearing more and more about LTACH's: Long Term Acute Care Hospitals. These specialized health care centers will often serve seniors, nursing home patients, and others who have serious medical problems. That is not to say that an LTACH is the same as a nursing home; in fact, they are quite different. Read on for the explanation.

In simple terms, what is a Long Term Acute Care Hospital (LTACH)?

LTACH's are focused on patients with serious medical problems that require intense, special treatment for a long time (usually about 20-30 days). These patients often transfer from Intensive Care units in traditional hospitals. It would not be unusual for a LTACH patient to need ventilator or other life support medical assistance.

How is a Long Term Acute Care Hospital (LTACH) different from a traditional hospital?

The biggest difference is in the specialization. LTACH's specialize in Long Term Acute Care services, while a traditional hospital offers many general services such as emergency rooms, maternity wards, and other services.

The second difference is that LTACH's may offer better care for patients that fit their specialization. The LTACH can focus very high standards on just a relatively small list of ailments, where the traditional hospital is more "spread-out" across a wide range of medical specialties. This is not to say that you cannot receive good acute care in a traditional hospital; its just that the Long Term Acute Care Hospital is set up to specialize in that care.

Is a LTACH like a nursing home?

Not at all. The patients in a Long Term Acute Care Hospital are probably much more ill than a nursing home would attempt to treat.

Is a LTACH like a hospice, say, for a fatal disease such as cancer?

Although many fatal diseases or injuries are serious enough to require specialized care, the Long Term Acute Care Hospital is for patients who can be treated, recover and then return home. As you know, hospice care is primarily for those not expected to recover and live past treatment.

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Do LTACH's provide emergency room service?

It depends on each hospital, but usually not. They often provide only "stand-by emergency services" staffed by a nurse, with a physician on call. The emergency care is like walk-in care clinics, dealing with minor injuries and sprains, small cuts, flu and colds, etc. Ambulance service is usually not offered at a LTACH.

Are there Out-Patient services?

Again, it depends on the individual LTACH, but many offer a full complement of clinics, lab services, pharmacies, scanning and imaging, and other out-patient services.

What about Medicare and Medicaid?

Many LTACH's accept patients on Medicare and Medicaid programs.

This is only the very basic plain talk description of Long Term Acute Care Hospitals. We recommend you search and contact your local LTACH with any questions about services.

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Consumer advice about Long Term Acute Care Hospitals