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Epidemiology for public health - ISS

Hospital activity in Italy: the 2019 report

Published on 18 January 2021 by the General Directorate for Healthcare Planning of the Ministry of Health, and based on data collected from hospital discharge records (Schede di dimissione ospedaliera - SDO), the “2019 annual report on hospital activity” shows a 99% data completeness level across all Italian hospitals. This ranged from 99.8% in public facilities to 99.3% and 90.8% in accredited and non-accredited private facilities. A correct anonymous identification code was included in 97% of all hospital discharge records. Quality of completion was better than in the previous year, with the percentage of errors down by over 5%.


The total number of discharges was 8,537,262, 95% of which from acute care units, 4% from rehabilitation units and 1% from long-term care units. Acute care admissions amounted to 7,754,530, 77% of which were ordinary admissions and 33% day cases. A total of 46,701,186 days of acute care were recorded, with ordinary admissions accounting for 81% of them.


Average length of stay in acute care units was 7 days among inpatients and 2.5 days among day cases. The average number of diagnoses was 2.5 for inpatients and 1.6 for day cases, and the average number of procedures was 3.1 for ordinary admissions and 2.4 for day-care admissions.


The majority of ordinary admissions fell into the following Major Diagnostic Categories (MDCs): diseases and disorders of the circulatory system (14.3% of the total), diseases and disorders of the musculoskeletal system and connective tissue (13.2%) and diseases and disorders of the respiratory system (10%).


Interregional mobility among acute inpatients and acute day cases was 8% and 9.5%, respectively. Admissions for rehabilitation amounted to 340,381, 92% of which were ordinary admissions and 8% day cases. A total of 8,609,684 days of rehabilitation were recorded, with ordinary admissions accounting for 81% of them. Interregional mobility among inpatients and day cases was 15.9% and 10.8%, respectively.


Total expenses for 2019 amounted to about 28.4 billion euro, of which about 26 billion euro for acute care services (91% for ordinary admissions), about 2 billion euro for rehabilitation services (96% for ordinary admissions) and about 350 million euro for long-term care services.


A comparison between 2019 and 2018 data

Compared to the previous year, a decrease was observed in the number of overall discharges (-1.7%) and discharges of acute inpatients and acute day cases (-2.2% and -0.8%). Discharges of day cases from rehabilitation units and long-stay patients increased by 0.5% and 1.5%, respectively.


A slight decrease was recorded in the total days of care (-1.2%). However, while days of acute care declined (inpatients: -1.5%; day cases: -2.5%), days of care for rehabilitation inpatients and long-stay patients rose (+3.9% and +2.0%, respectively).


The age- and sex-standardized hospitalization rate among acute patients declined from 120.5 discharges per 1,000 population in 2018 to 117.9 in 2019 (90.1 for inpatients and 27.8 for day cases). This confirmed the downward trend started in 2010, when the overall hospitalization rate was 171.8 per 1,000 population (in 2019, the overall rate was 123.9).


Useful resources
  • Visit the website of the Ministry of Health to download the "2019 report"


Publication date: 1 February 2021

Authors: Valerio Manno e Giada Minelli – Servizio tecnico scientifico di statistica, ISS