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5 Setting Distinctions: LTACHs vs. SNFs

By Dr. Dean French, MD, CPPS

While long-term acute care hospitals (LTACHs) and skilled nursing facilities (SNFs) are both potential options for patients discharging from a hospital, they offer very different levels of care. Below are 5 key differences between LTACH and SNF settings that impact medically complex patient recovery and readmission rates.





Care is directed by physicians who visit patients daily, and multiple medical sub-specialists are available for consultation.

Physicians typically visit weekly or monthly, but not daily, and some sub-specialist consultations are available in select centers.


High-acuity care provided by BLS- and ACLS-certified nurses. Nurses implement and manage IV lines, catheters, and tracheostomy and nasogastric tubes. Nurse-to-patient ratios resemble those in other hospitals.

BLS-certified nurses monitor and manage IV lines, catheters, and tracheostomy and nasogastric tubes.

Ventilator Liberation

Ventilator liberation is a major focus, led by pulmonologists, respiratory therapists, and rehabilitation specialists.

Ventilator liberation is rare, and ventilator management is typically led by nurses rather than respiratory therapists.

Patient Characteristics

Patients typically have serious conditions such as respiratory failure, sepsis, traumatic brain injury, or surgical complications with many concurrent illnesses, and require ongoing acute care.

Patients tend to have a wide variety of conditions that can be managed by nurses with the goal of restoring functional independence before returning home.

Ancillary Services

Services such as telemetry, radiology, pharmacy, lab, and dialysis are typically available on-site.

Radiology, pharmacy, lab, and dialysis services are accessible off-site.

Next Level Care. Next Level Recovery.

Kindred Hospitals provide specialized long-term acute care and rehabilitation for medically complex patients. 

By Dr. Dean French, MD, CPPS