What Does LTAC Stand For? Full Definition

What does LTAC stand for

LTAC is the abbreviation of a long-term acute care hospital. LTAC is designed to treat patients with severe and critical medical issues that need special and intense treatment for a long period of time, most likely, an extended period of 20 days to 30 days.

That was the short definition of what does LTAC stand for.

LTAC Hospitals have a crucial role in the intensive care system.

The specialization focuses on the patients who are dependent on the ventilator or on inpatient dialysis or those who are suffering from multi-system or multi-organ failure, organ transplant or post-surgical complications, complicated wounds that require special care, or acquired or traumatic brain injury.

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Okay, but what does LTAC mean in more in-depth? Let’s find that out next.

What does LTAC mean?

Long-term acute care hospitals provide more resource-intensive and individualized care as compared to skilled nursing homes, acute rehabilitation centers, or nursing facilities.

Patients who are treated under LTAC are transferred from the intensive care facilities of a conventional facility to a long-term acute care facility since they do not need any intensive diagnostic measures provided by the conventional facility.

Long-term acute care hospitals focus on the resources required which apply extremely high standards for a relatively lesser number of ailments.

Long-term acute care facilities are located within an acute care facility however, they perform their functions independently.

The acute care center must possess a license if they want to function independently and they can have a governing body of their own. They may also work in a stand-alone facility.

They may also provide certain outpatient services, for instance, radiology procedures or laboratory.

LTAC hospitals are not only the fastest-growing but also the most effective post-acute care service providers.

Here is a quick one-minute video made by Kindred Healthcare if you rather prefer information provided in video format to the question “What Does LTAC Stand For?“:

Let’s move on to the benefits of LTAC next.

Benefits of LTAC

Now that you know what does LTAC stands for and means, we can dive deeper into the benefits of LTAC.

There is a unique feature of treating critical patients effectively.

In comparison to the other poor-acute facilities or traditional hospitals, long-term acute care facilities help their patients who require specific specialty physicians on a daily basis.

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The team of specialists collaborates with an interdisciplinary group consisting of therapists, pharmacists, nurses, dietitians, and other care specialists.

The experts operate together to determine the appropriate treatment options and care plans for individual patients.

Most treatment programs include several clinical disciplines that are intensive, evolving, and complex and may need a longer duration of stay which may extend up to weeks.

LTAC hospitals have the ability to focus their resources and energy on a restricted number of specified treatments that have minimal overhead. They have the capacity to offer exceptionally cost-effective intensive care in comparison to traditional care hospitals.

Long-term acute care hospitals carry three main benefits:

  • They possess the same accreditation, certification, and licensing standards that traditional hospitals have but still, they provide the personalized or individualized focus of the smaller care facilities.
  • Being a long-term acute care hospital, the cost per patient per day 25% to 35% cheaper than the conventional hospitals.
  • According to government data, this kind of intensive care has the ability to decreased hospital readmissions almost by 26% to 44%.

That’s all about the benefits. But what does LTAC stand for in medical terms?

What does LTAC stand for in medical terms?

What does LTAC stand for in medical terms

There is a growing need for LTAC as the aging population is suffering from extreme critical and chronic illnesses and the trend is worsening by the day.

The estimated rise of the number of people aged 65 and above who will be suffering from more and more chronic illnesses is will be about 40 percent by 2030.

This has created an increase in the demand for LTAC facilities that successfully cure these severely ill patients.

Long-term acute care facilities offer intensive care for extremely niche and high-acuity patient populations and achieve extra efficient and effective recovery of the patients having the high danger of readmission because of their medical and clinical complexities.

Treatment for complicated pulmonary patients is the specialty of the LTAC hospitals since they offer acute level care to the severely and critically ill patients having a certain competency for those patients with pulmonary diseases.

Moreover, several pulmonary patients have numerous comorbidities which imply that the patients will benefit just by visiting various specialty physicians frequently.

This service is provided by the LTAC hospitals. They provide 24/7 respiratory coverage to patients suffering from acute pulmonary illness.

That’s all about what does LTAC stands for in medical terms.

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Types of patients visiting LTAC

Now that you know what does LTAC stands for in medical terms, it’s time to find out who visits these LTAC hospitals.

The average duration of stay of a patient in an LTAC facility is approximately 25 to 30 days and the kinds of patients typically visiting an LTAC facility involve those who need:

  • Intensive respiratory care
  • Ongoing dialysis in case of chronic renal failure
  • Several IV transfusion or medications
  • Sustained ventilator weaning or use
  • Complicated care for burns or wounds

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The myths of long-term acute care hospitals

Myth of LTAC

There are too many misconceptions regarding long-term acute care hospitals. People often get confused with the services provided by acute care facilities.

Some of the common myths relating to long-term acute care has been clarified below:


Many of us think acute care centers are nursing homes. In fact, acute care hospitals offer a significantly higher level of intensive care than traditional hospitals and skilled nursing facilities.

The LTAC hospitals are like the intensive care units (ICUs) but since they function like the hospitals, they provide 24 hours physician coverage coupled with several other specialized services which include the following:

  • Pharmacy
  • Radiology
  • Full nursing staff
  • Occupational, physical, respiratory and speech therapy
  • Dietary

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LTAC requires patients admitted to the facility to stay for 25 to 30 days, whereas the fact is that the duration of stay of a patient solely depends on their injury or illness, goals, and complications.

Every patient requires different treatment, hence, there is no definite time period of stay at LTAC.

The specialized physicians coordinate with their patients to develop a personalized plan of intensive care to reach their unique goals.

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Patients who get admitted at LTAC hospitals receive hospice care.

The fact is that they do not get any hospice care during their stay at LTAC HOSPITALS.

See also: How to Become a Hospice Nurse

LTAC only focus on helping their patients get back to their normal life in their specific community.

Patients go for LTAC for treatment since they provide aggressive treatments for any illness or injury.


Patients who get admitted at LTAC HOSPITALS do not receive any occupational therapy or physical therapy.

The fact is that most of the patients at LTAC HOSPITALS are severely ill and early mobility is crucial to the patient’s long-run outcome.

There are therapists who offer specific services to meet this degree of care.

LTAC HOSPITALS patients may receive physical or occupational therapy even when they are on a ventilator.

Both occupational and physical therapists create therapy regimens that are appropriate for individual patients.


LTAC hospitals can not allow patients who require ICU facilities or patients who are on an IV drip, whereas the fact is that LTAC hospitals focus on intensive and critical care of their patients just like the intensive care units (ICU).

See also: What Does ICU Stand For?

Therapists and nurses receive specialized training to take care of their patients suffering from critical illnesses.

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Let’s continue to the next myth behind LTAC.


The patient who wants to get admitted to an LTAC hospital must be admitted to an ICU for at least three nights.

The fact is that there are no such stay requirements for a patient to be admitted at LTAC HOSPITALS.

They can simply visit the doctor if needed.


No insurance payments for a patient at LTAC HOSPITALS.

Most of the long-term acute care hospitals have tied up with several insurance companies.

They directly work with insurance workers to make sure of the coverage even before the patient is admitted to LTAC.

Conclusion: What does LTAC stand for?

What does LTAC mean

Long-term acute care hospitals have developed as an essential component in the department of intensive clinical care.

According to several data, LTAC hospitals can offer care at extremely lower costs and have many effective ventilator weaning.

Hence, it is crystal clear that the services provided by the LTAC hospitals play essential and life-saving roles in reforming the existing health care services.

This is because they treat patients with medical conditions that cannot be treated by the short-term acute care hospital, skilled nursing facility, or transitional care facility.

The therapists or physicians who work at a long-term acute care hospital also offer the luxury and comfort of time.

This is not only for formulating the customized or personalized care plan but to learn more about the patients and their loved ones too. More than often, therapists tend to develop long-lasting relationships with their patients.

This helps to build a stronger sense of love and camaraderie.

The therapists working at long-term acute care centers experience job satisfaction and happiness with their work.

For instance, in 2011, physicians and therapists at Bethesda Hospital experienced the highest satisfaction rates in the entire HealthEast system that also includes three short-term acute care facilities and fourteen clinics.

LTAC provides personalized, comprehensive clinical therapies and treatment which are planned to improve the goals for clinically complicated patients.

They provide rehabilitation and intensive medical care services that are not usually and routinely provided at traditional hospitals or other kinds of facilities like caring for complicated inpatient dialysis or even a complicated injury or a wound.

Now you know pretty much all that comes to answers related to what does LTAC stand for.

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About Ida Koivisto, BSN, RN, PHN

Ida is both a registered nurse and public health nurse. Her passion is to provide as much valuable information about nursing to the world as possible. In her spare time from work and blogging, Ida loves to work out at the gym and spend time with relatives.