Hungary has the longest hospital stay in EU

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Hungarian in-patients spent the longest time on average in hospital in the entire European Union in 2017, Eurostat reported on Tuesday. The statistical office of the EU also found that Hungary fared equally poorly in respect of the number of hospital discharges.
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In 2017 (or the latest year for which data are available), the average length of a hospital stay for in-patients ranged from 5.3 days in Bulgaria to 9.1 days in France, with the Netherlands below this range (4.5 days; note the data for the Netherlands exclude all long-stay hospitals) and Czechia (9.6 days) and Hungary (9.8 days) above.

Among the non-member countries for which data are available, Turkey (4.2 days; 2016 data) reported a particularly low average length of stay and Serbia (9.7 days) a particularly high average.

The average length of stay for in-patients is calculated from the total number of nights spent in hospitals by in-patients divided by the total number of discharges.

Comparing the average length of stay in 2017 (or latest year) with the situation in 2012, about half of the EU Member States — 13 out of 27 (incomplete data for Greece) — observed a reduction in the average length of time that patients spent in hospital. By far the largest decrease was in Finland, where the average fell from 10.6 days to 7.8 days between 2013 and 2017.

By contrast, 11 Member States recorded an increase during this period and by far the largest was in France (up from 5.7 days to 9.1 days). Consequently, there were three Member States where there was no change — Poland (2013-2017), Romania and Sweden (2013-2017).

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Males generally spent longer than females in hospital…

Although there were more female patients than male patients, the average length of stay for male patients was generally longer in most Member States. 

The main exceptions to this pattern, as can be seen from Figure 6 were Malta, Hungary and to a lesser extent Belgium, where female in-patients recorded clearly longer hospital stays. By contrast, in Germany and Austria the average length of stays for female and male patients was the same.

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Hospital discharges by diagnosis

For in-patients, the main diagnosis in 2017 across EU Member States was circulatory diseases. The rare exceptions to this were: Ireland where pregnancy and childbirth was the most common; Luxembourg (2016 data) where diseases of the musculoskeletal system and connective tissue were the most common; and the United Kingdom (2016 data) where diseases of the respiratory system were the most common.

For diseases of the circulatory system the average length of stay for in-patients ranged from 4.3 days in Bulgaria to 12.6 days in Hungary.

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In-patients with mental and behavioural disorders generally spent the longest time in hospital per stay; generally between 16 and 41 days (32.6 in Hungary).

Diseases of the musculoskeletal system and connective tissue the average length of stay for in-patients was the highest in Hungary at 12.4 days, versus 3.2 days in the Netherlands, 5.1 in Bulgaria and 5 days in Spain.

As for diseases of the respiratory system, the average length of hospitalisation was 9 days in Hungary, the second longest after 10.1 days in the Czech Republic. The shortest stay was recorded in Estonia (5.3 days) and Sweden (5.4 days).

Hungary tops another list, namely the length of hospitalisation in the case of diseases of the genitourinary system (7.2 days), with Bulgaria on the other end of the scale (3.8 days).

The average hospital stay in relation to pregnancy, childbirth and the puerperium (the period of about six weeks after childbirth during which the mother's reproductive organs return to their original non-pregnant condition) was the highest at 5.1 days in Hungary and Slovakia, while it was only 2.6 days in Sweden, 2.7 in the Netherlands and 2.8 in Estonia.

As regards day care patients, a majority of the EU Member States reported their highest discharge rates for either neoplasms or for diseases of the genitourinary system, reflecting the use of day care for some cancer treatments (such as chemotherapy) and some kidney disease treatments (such as dialysis).

The highest discharge rate for all hospitalised patients was in France

Combining discharge rates in 2017 for in-patients and day care patients, the highest discharge rate for all hospitalised patients was in France, which was the only EU Member State with a rate of 42,500 per 100,000 inhabitants (incomplete data for Bulgaria and Greece). Romania, Ireland, Croatia, Belgium, Bulgaria (excluding day care patients) and Austria reported rates between 32,000 and 36,000 per 100,000 inhabitants, while all other Member States (for which data are available) reported rates below 30,000 per 100,000 inhabitants, with the lowest rate of all in Cyprus, 9,800 per 100,000 inhabitants.

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