Long-term acute care patients require constant medical monitoring and care. This can include regular lab work or medication regimens that patients cannot manage themselves. It can include physical rehabilitation or psychological counseling.
Ventilator-dependent patients, quadriplegics and those with severe brain damage are among those who require long-term care. These facilities also supervise patients who require close observation and medical monitoring such as the very old and severely mentally ill. Patients with communicable illnesses such as drug-resistant tuberculosis that require long-term isolation also require long-term acute care.
Long-term acute care hospitals receive their patients from short-term hospitals that do not provide long-term care. These hospitals can be independent units within large hospitals. They can also be for-profit hospitals or nursing homes. Long-term acute care hospitals differ from hospice in that patients may live indefinitely with acute care.
Long-term acute care or LTAC is defined as acute care expected to last 20 days or more. Acute care differs from sub-acute care in that skilled nursing or medical professionals are needed at least four hours a day, not including time assisting patients with daily activities.