BACKGROUND: Digestive diseases imply a substantial burden for health care systems. Effectiveness of specialized gastroenterology care has been demonstrated in a few real life surveys.
AIMS: To perform an in-depth analysis of Hospital Discharge Records (HDRs) of patients admitted for digestive diseases (DDs) from all Italian regions over the years 2010-2014.
METHODS: Data on National HDRs were provided by the Italian Health Ministry.
RESULTS: During the years 2010-2014, a mean of 949,830 patients with DDs were admitted to hospital per year, representing 10.0% of all admissions in Italy. Only 7.4% of patients with DDs were admitted to Gastroenterology units due to the limited number of the specialty-focused beds (3.4/100,000 inhabitants). DDs urgent admissions in Gastroenterology units represented 33% of admissions. The mean length of stay was 8.1 days in Gastroenterology units, as opposed to 8.3 in other units. Mortality rate for DDs altogether, for urgent admissions, and for urgent admissions with bleeding were 2.2%, 1.7%, 2.2% in Gastroenterology units, and 3.1%, 3.9%, 3.5% in other units, respectively. DDs admissions were appropriate in 81.3% in Gastroenterology units as opposed to 66.6% in all other units.
CONCLUSIONS: Gastroenterology units offer a better specific care in terms of length of hospital stay and mortality even for patients admitted for emergent conditions.