There is a paucity of published literature on the length of hospital stays (LOS) for patients who leave against medical advice (AMA) and on the factors that predict their LOS. The purpose of the study is to examine the relationship between race and the LOS for AMA patients after adjusting for patient and hospital characteristics. National Hospital Discharge Survey (NHDS) data were used to describe LOS for AMA patients aged 18 years or older. Patient characteristics included age, sex, race, marital status, insurance, and diagnosis (ICD-9-CM). Hospital characteristics consisted of ownership, region and bed size. LOS was the major outcome measure. Using data from all years 1988–2006, the expected time to AMA discharge was first examined as a function of race, then adjusting for year terms, patient and hospital characteristics, and major medical diagnoses and mental illness. The unadjusted effect of race on the expected time of leaving AMA was about twice the adjusted effect. After controlling for the other covariates, the expected time to AMA discharge is 20% shorter for Blacks than Whites. The most significant predictors included age, insurance coverage, mental illness, gender, and region. Factors identified in this study offer insights into directions for evidence based- health policy to reduce AMA discharges.
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