Doctor and senior woman wearing facemasks during coronavirus and flu outbreak. Virus protection. COVID-2019..

A new admissions policy has driven hospital inpatient stays to record low levels, according to Citigroup analysts.

Hospital inpatient admissions declined 4.5% in November from levels a year earlier, the analysts reported, basing their conclusions on responses from 98 hospitals. Only 5% of respondents reported year-over-year growth in overall admissions, which was the weakest result in 11 years of the Citi Research survey. That figure was down from 22% in October.

Most hospital stays shorter than two midnights are to be considered outpatient stays under a newly implemented regulation, which the analysts said was the main reason for the drop. 

Some hoped the “two-midnight rule” would decrease the number of people kept for days in outpatient “observation” status, thereby allowing more to be eligible for skilled nursing coverage.