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Study design: This is a prospective open-cohort case series. Objectives: The objective of this study was to assess changes over time in the duration of key acute hospital process barriers for patients with spinal cord damage (SCD) from admission until transfer into spinal rehabilitation unit (SRU) or other destinations. Setting: The study was conducted in Acute hospitals, Victoria, Australia (2006–2013). Methods: Duration of the following discrete sequential processes was measured: acute hospital admission until referral to SRU, referral until SRU assessment, SRU assessment until ready for SRU transfer and ready for transfer until SRU admission. Time-series analysis was performed using a generalised additive model (GAM). Seasonality of non-traumatic spinal cord dysfunction (SCDys) was examined. Results: GAM analysis shows that the waiting time for admission into SRU was significantly (P < 0.001) longer for patients who were female, who had tetraplegia, who were motor complete, had a pelvic pressure ulcer and who were referred from another health network. Age had a non-linear effect on the duration of waiting for transfer from acute hospital to SRU and both the acute hospital and SRU length of stay (LOS). The duration patients spent waiting for SRU admission increased over the study period. There was an increase in the number of referrals over the study period and an increase in the number of patients accepted but not admitted into the SRU. There was no notable seasonal influence on the referral of patients with SCDys. Conclusions: Time-series analysis provides additional insights into changes in the waiting times for SRU admission and the LOS in hospital for patients with SCD.


Mary MacKillop Institute for Health Research

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Journal Article

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