Longer hospital length of stay (LOS) has been associated with worse outcomes and increased resource utilization. However, diagnostic and patient-level factors associated with LOS have not been well studied on a large scale. The goal was to identify patient, surgical and organizational factors associated with longer patient LOS for adult patients at a high-volume quaternary spinal care center.
We performed a retrospective analysis of 13,493 admissions from January 2006 to December 2019. Factors analyzed included age, sex, admission status (emergent vs scheduled), ASIA grade, operative vs non-operative management, mean blood loss, operative time, and adverse events. Specific adverse events included surgical site infection (SSI), other infection (systemic or UTI), neuropathic pain, delirium, dural tear, pneumonia, and dysphagia. Diagnostic categories included trauma, oncology, deformity, degenerative, and “other”. A multivariable linear regression model was fit to log-transformed LOS to determine independent factors associated with patient LOS, with effects expressed as multipliers on mean LOS.
Mean LOS for the population (SD) was 15.8 (34.0) days. Factors significantly (p < 0.05) associated with longer LOS were advanced patient age [multiplier on mean LOS 1.011/year (95% CI: 1.007-1.015)], emergency admission [multiplier on mean LOS 1.615 (95% CI: 1.337-1.951)], ASIA grade [multiplier on mean LOS 1.125/grade (95% CI: 1.051-1.205)], operative management [multiplier on mean LOS 1.211 (95% CI: 1.006-1.459)], and the occurrence of one or more AEs [multiplier on mean LOS 2.613 (95% CI: 2.188-3.121)]. Significant AEs included postoperative SSI [multiplier on mean LOS 1.749 (95% CI: 1.250-2.449)], other infections (systemic infections and UTI combined) [multiplier on mean LOS 1.650 (95% CI: 1.359-2.004)], delirium [multiplier on mean LOS 1.404 (95% CI: 1.103-1.787)], and pneumonia [multiplier on mean LOS 1.883 (95% CI: 1.447-2.451)]. Among the diagnostic categories explored, degenerative patients experienced significantly shorter LOS [multiplier on mean LOS 0.672 (95%CI: 0.535-0.844), p < 0.001] compared to non-degenerative categories.
This large-scale study taking into account diagnostic categories identified several factors associated with patient LOS. Future interventions should target modifiable factors to minimize LOS and guide hospital resource allocation thereby improving patient outcomes and quality of care and decreasing healthcare-associated costs.

© 2023. The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature.