An elderly woman with dementia spent five months waiting for a place at a nursing home despite being ready for hospital discharge.
An inquiry has been launched after Iris Sibley, 89, lived in room at Bristol Royal Infirmary between August and December last year because no suitable care home place was found.
Agencies providing healthcare in the area have apologised.
Her family said the system of funding was "loaded towards" private patients.
In a joint statement, University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust, South Gloucestershire CCG, which funds placements, and Bristol Community Health,
which assesses funding and sources placements, said they were "extremely sorry Mrs Sibley was kept in hospital longer than she needed to be".
They added that they "are working together to review her case and understand the reasons for the delay".
Twenty-four homes were contacted while Mrs Sibley was in hospital, but they had no vacancies, could not meet her needs or were too far away for the family.
A home was eventually found in December, but she has now been reassessed and told she no longer qualifies for NHS funding - meaning her family will have to pay towards her care.
Mrs Sibley's son John Sibley said the system of placing people in homes was "loaded towards private patients" because they pay more.
He added: "Local authorities will only pay a certain amount of money, whereas [homes] can charge more for a private patient."