Regional Disparities Exist for Hospice Length of Stay

The length of stay for hospice patients in the south and western regions of the United States were higher than those in other regions during the second quarter of 2018. This according to a December report released by PlayMaker Health, a health care sales and marketing software company.

In the southern United States, the average length of stay for hospice patients during that period was 82.2 days. The western states saw an average of 80.6 days. By comparison, average length of stay in the Midwest region was 71.3 days. The Northeast had the shortest average with 64.3 days.

This continues a trend established during the previous three quarters.


Q1 2018:

Midwest: 72.3 days

Northeast: 64.7 days


South: 82.1 days

West: 82.1 days

Q4 2017:

Midwest: 74.9 days

Northeast: 68.4 days

South: 84.4 days

West: 82.7 days

Q3 2017:

Midwest: 73.5 days

Northeast: 66.9 days

South: 83.5 days

West: 82.5 days

The overall national average length of stay for hospice patients was 74.9 for full year 2018, up slightly from 74.8 in 2017. The 2016 national average was 73 days, according to PlayMaker.

Many factors contribute to hospice lengths of stay, including state regulations regarding when patients may be referred to hospice care, payer considerations, the patient’s condition, and other factors.

Seth West, director of marketing and communications for PlayMaker, told Hospice News that variations in culture and approaches to treatment in different regions also plays a role. For example, referring physicians’ perceptions of hospice care, including the perceived value of hospice care, plays a role in how early patients enter hospice. Another variable is whether physicians are stopping treatment or continuing medical oversight of their patients while they are in hospice, West explained. Continued medical care could prolong the patient’s life and therefore the length of stay.