7 Myths About Long-Term Acute Care Hospitals

Long-term acute care hospitals (LTACHs) are designed to help patients advance their recovery when traditional hospitals may not have the time or resources to help them. But, when it comes to long-term acute care, there are many misconceptions. From the services provided to admissions requirements and insurance coverage, we’ve taken some of the most common myths about long-term acute care hospitals and clarified them below.

Myth #1: Long-term acute care hospitals are nursing homes

Fact: Long-term acute care hospitals provide a much higher level of care than nursing homes and skilled nursing facilities (SNFs). An LTACH is similar to an intensive care unit (ICU). Because LTACHs are hospitals, they have 24-hour physician coverage along with many specialized services on-site, including:

  • Full nursing staff
  • Physical, occupational, speech and respiratory therapy
  • Dietary
  • Pharmacy
  • Laboratory
  • Radiology

Long-term acute care hospitals are uniquely designed to provide care for patients with complex medical needs.

Myth #2: Patients admitted to an LTACH are required to stay 25 days

Fact: The amount of time a patient stays in an LTACH is dependent upon their illness or injury, complications and goals. Every patient is different because every human is different. In an LTACH, physicians collaborate with patients and their loved ones to create an individualized plan of care to achieve those unique goals.

Myth #3: LTACHs are where people go to get hospice care

Fact: Most patients do not receive hospice care while staying in an LTACH. Long-term acute care hospitals focus on getting patients back to their life in their community. Patients and their families choose LTACHs because they offer aggressive treatment for the disease or injury.

Myth #4: Patients don’t get physical therapy or occupational therapy at an LTACH

Fact: While most patients in an LTACH are quite ill, early mobility is essential to a patient’s long-term outcome. LTACHs have therapists on staff who provide services specific to this level of care. Patients in an LTACH may begin receiving physical and/or occupational therapy even while on a ventilator. The physical and occupational therapists will create a therapy regimen appropriate for each patient.

Myth #5: LTACHs can’t accept ICU-level patients or patients on an IV drip

Fact: Much like an intensive care unit, LTACHs focus on critical care of patients. Nurses and staff are specially trained to care for patients who are critically ill or have a complicated medical history.

Myth #6: A patient must spend at least three nights in an ICU before admitting to an LTACH

Fact: There are no stay requirements for LTACH patients. Patients can admit from a doctor’s office or even their home, if needed.

Myth #7: Insurance won’t pay for an LTACH

Fact: Most LTACHs have contracts with numerous insurance companies. LTACHs work directly with insurance providers to ensure coverage prior to a patient’s admission.