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Hospital length of stay (LOS) declined steadily during the 1970s, then rapidly during the early years of the Medicare prospective payment system (PPS). In this study, the authors examine trends in hospital LOS for Medicare patients from 1979 through 1987 for all cases combined, for medical and surgical cases separately, and for different geographic regions. The increase in LOS for surgical cases from 1985 through 1987 represented two offsetting trends. Continuing declines in LOS for most procedures were offset by an increased shift toward complex, long LOS procedures.

Originally published in: Health Care Financing Review, Winter 1993, v. 15, no 2, pp. 121-135.

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