Shorter hospital stays
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Patient statistics2008



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Shorter hospital stays

Over the last 20 years, the average number of bed-days in Norwegian general hospitals has fallen from 7.5 days to 4.8 days. The number of in-patient stays and out-patient consultations increased in 2008.

There were almost 820 000 in-patient stays in general hospitals during 2008; a growth of almost one per cent from the previous year. The average length of an in-patient stay was 7.5 days in 1989 and six days in 2000. The decrease has continued, and the average length of a stay was 4.8 days in 2008.

During 2008, more than 550 000 day cases were conducted in the general hospitals; a decrease of 3 per cent. The fall is probably due to certain rehabilitation treatments being registered as day cases in 2007 and then more correctly as out-patient consultations in 2008. The number of out-patient consultations rose by 3.9 per cent during 2008.

Number of in-patient stays day cases1 and out-patient consultations2 and change in per cent from previous year, by Regional Health Authority (RHA). 2008
Regional Health Authority3 In-patient stays 2008 Change in in-patient stays
from 2006, per cent
Day cases 2008 Change in day cases
from 2007, per cent
Out-patient consultations 2008 Change in out-patient
consultations from 2007, per cent
Total  819 184 0.9  550 813 -3.0 3 875 188 3.9
South-Eastern Norway RHA  450 808 0.0  309 884 -4.9 2 134 882 3.8
Western Norway RHA  161 156 3.0 91 980 -4.2  719 530 3.0
Central Norway RHA  111 216 2.8 76 217 4.2  585 921 5.2
Northern Norway RHA 81 688 -2.2 52 748 -0.8  434 855 4.4
Private hospitals without RHA agreement 14 316 13.5 19 984 3.2    
1  The sum of day cases in outpatient departments and hospital wards.
2  Outpatient consultations in private hospitals without RHA agreement are not included.
3  Includes some hospitals not owned by the Health Authority.

Four health regions in Norway

Each region has a Regional Health Authority (RHA) that bears the responsibility for specialist health services for the inhabitants in its region. The RHAs own the public hospitals within their region, and also finance some private hospitals (non-profit foundations). In addition, there are also a number of private commercial hospitals. Western Norway was the only RHA in 2008 with a growth in all three types of treatment activities.

In-patient stays ended in 2008, by month of admission

Most admissions during January

Most in-patient admissions take place in January. There are also many admissions in April. During the summer holiday, many hospital wards are closed or have reductions in the workforce. There is less planned activity, and July and August therefore have fewest admissions. Two out of three hospital admissions are emergencies.

Most frequently used in-patient diagnoses

The most common cause of admission to hospital was diseases of the circulatory system. Fourteen per cent of the main diagnoses for in-patient stays were due to such cardiovascular diseases. Injuries and poisoning represented 11 per cent and cancer 10 per cent of the diagnoses.

There are differences between men and women with regard to the reason for in-patient stays. While women are most frequently admitted due to pregnancy and birth, men are most often admitted due to cardiovascular diseases.

Increased activity in out-patients’ departments

During 2008, there were almost 3.9 million out-patient consultations in publicly-financed general hospitals. This is an increase of about 146 000 consultations, or a growth of 3.9 per cent. Since Statistics Norway started publishing data from the Norwegian patient register, there have been annual growths of between 2.6 and 5.8 per cent. Since 2008, the out-patient consultations have been included in the hospital financing system based on Diagnosis Related Groups.

The most common causes of out-patient care were injuries (356 800), diseases in the musculoskeletal system (351 500) and tumours (301 000).

A main diagnosis is given for the condition that is the main cause for the patient’s need of treatment or examination. Where there is more than one condition, the most resource-demanding condition is chosen. The International Classification of Diseases, 10th revision (ICD-10) is used in the Patient statistics.

Statistics Norway collects patient data from the Norwegian patient register.