This Findings Brief assesses the degree to which the
annual number of patient discharges varies from year to
year for low volume hospitals. The study finds that low
volume hospitals face more instability from year to year
in demand for inpatient services than larger hospitals.
Also, the average variability over time for the smallest
hospitals, defined as less than 500 or fewer discharges a
year, is nearly 60% higher than the average for all
hospitals. Finally, the study concluded that even though
low volume, rather than rurality, is the important
factor, hospitals in extremely rural counties must
contend with more fluctuation than other hospitals,
primarily because they tend to be smaller.