American Speech-Language-Hearing Association

Long-Term Acute Care Hospitals 

What are long-term acute care hospitals?

Long-term acute care hospitals (LTACHs) are facilities that specialize in the treatment of patients with serious medical conditions that require care on an ongoing basis but no longer require intensive care or extensive diagnostic procedures. These patients are typically discharged from the intensive care units and require more care than they can receive in a rehabilitation center, skilled nursing facility, or at home.

Where are LTACHs located?

LTACHs often are housed within the walls of an acute care hospital but function independently. LTACHs must be licensed independently and have their own governing body. LTACHs may also exist as a stand-alone facility. They may offer some outpatient services, such as laboratory or radiology procedures.

What are the benefits of LTACHs?

Because LTACHs are able to focus their energy and resources at a limited number of specialized treatments with minimal overhead, they are able to provide more cost-effective care than if these same patients were kept in acute care facilities.

What types of patients are seen in LTACHs?

Under Medicare, the patient must need more than 25 days of hospitalization. The average length of stay of a person in an LTACH is approximately 30 days.

The types of patients typically seen in LTACHs include those requiring:

  • Prolonged ventilator use or weaning
  • Ongoing dialysis for chronic renal failure
  • Intensive respiratory care
  • Multiple IV medications or transfusions
  • Complex wound care/care for burns

What do Speech-Language Pathologists do in LTACHs?

SLPs provide a wide-range of services to individuals in these facilities. Since many patients have trachs and/or are ventilator-dependent, the SLP may work on swallowing abilities and tolerance for voice prostheses. SLPs may also work with the patient, family, and staff on ways to optimize the person's communication, such as alternative and augmentative communication, and may inservice staff on swallowing problems and communicating with people who have speech and language disorders.

At this time, ASHA does not collect member information or National Outcomes Measurement System (NOMS) data about the LTACH population.

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