Sociodemographic and Clinical Predictors of Prolonged Length of Corneal Ulcer Hospitalizations

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



JAMA ophthalmology








IMPORTANCE: The length of stay (LOS) of hospitalizations may be a useful indicator of the burden of disease of corneal ulcers. Identifying variables associated with longer LOS may help to enhance delivery of care for high-risk patients. OBJECTIVE: To investigate the sociodemographic, social, and clinical factors associated with LOS in hospitalizations for corneal ulcers in the US. DESIGN, SETTING, AND PARTICIPANTS: This was a retrospective cross-sectional study of adult patients (aged >18 years) admitted with a primary diagnosis of corneal ulcer between quarter 4 of 2015 through 2020 and conducted using data from the National Inpatient Sample (NIS). Patients were stratified into 2 even cohorts based on LOS: LOS of 4 days or less and LOS greater than 4 days. Individual-level sociodemographic, social risk factors, and medical comorbidities associated with longer LOS were examined by multivariable regression. Data were analyzed from October 2015 to December 2020. EXPOSURE: Potential sociodemographics or medical comorbidities at hospital admission. MAIN OUTCOME AND MEASURE: The primary outcome of interest was factors associated with extended length of stay. The hypothesis being tested was formulated during data collection. RESULTS: A total of 1187 patients (mean [SD] age, 53.5 [20.9] years; 602 female [50.7%]) were included for analysis. The cohort with LOS greater than 4 days had higher total charges than the cohort with LOS of 4 days or less (mean [SD] charges, $79 504 [$86 719] vs $26 474 [$20 743]; P < .001). Sociodemographic variables associated with LOS greater than 4 days were Black race (adjusted odds ratio [aOR], 1.41; 95% CI, 1.03-1.92; P = .03), Medicare insurance (aOR, 1.42; 95% CI, 1.09-1.85; P = .009), and housing insecurity (aOR, 1.99; 95% CI, 1.29-3.06; P = .002). Medical comorbidities associated with LOS greater than 4 days were alcohol use (aOR, 1.50; 95% CI, 1.00-2.26; P = .05), dementia (aOR, 2.35; 95% CI, 1.36-4.07; P = .002), complicated diabetes (aOR, 1.75; 95% CI, 1.21-2.53; P = .003), uncomplicated diabetes (aOR, 1.57; 95% CI, 1.02-2.42; P = .04), drug misuse (aOR, 1.66; 95% CI, 1.08-2.57; P = .02), and legal blindness (aOR, 3.42; 95% CI, 1.19-9.82; P = .02). Based on NIS national estimates, corneal ulcers were estimated to have a direct annual health care expenditure of $35 819 590 in the US. CONCLUSION AND RELEVANCE: Corneal ulcer hospitalizations represent a significant burden of disease for patients and health care systems. This study highlights sociodemographic and clinical factors that may help clinicians identify high-risk patients vulnerable to complications and morbidity due to corneal ulcers.