Hospital Readmissions in the Senior Population

Apr 06, 2012

As we noted in our last post, nearly one in five seniors is readmitted to a hospital within thirty days of discharge after an initial hospital stay.  Why is this? There are a number of possible reasons:

  • Upon discharge, there is typically a set of instructions given the patient or patient’s family, as well as one or more prescriptions.  In the excitement of going home from the hospital, the patient and family sometimes don’t ensure they understand these instructions when given by the discharging nurse or physician.  These instructions are given to promote a patient’s successful transition back into the home.  It’s critical that these instructions are reviewed, understood and implemented.
  • According to some studies, more than 30% of discharged patients DO NOT see a doctor, nurse or other healthcare professional within the first 30 days after discharge.  Our suggestion?  Schedule an appointment with your physician as soon as possible following a hospital discharge.  Bring the discharge instructions and any new prescriptions with you!
  • One third of all doctors report never having received the final hospital report on patients that have had a hospital stay.  Further, many of the reports that are received are incomplete, or are missing new medications that may have been prescribed.
  • Upon return home, a patient may not be able to fall back into a normal routine.  He or she may need additional skilled home health services, such as physical/occupational therapy, IV therapy or wound care.  Don’t neglect this!
  • A person returning home may need assistance with activities of daily living.  Further, there may be a spouse acting as primary caregiver in the home.  Increased care levels and/or lifting may negatively impact the spouse’s health as well.  Getting a little extra help in the home from a professional caregiver may aid in a person’s recovery, and preserve the health of a family caregiver.

Stay tuned to this blog for more information about the conditions that are now being measured for 30 day readmissions as part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.