Post-Discharge Care Gains Prominence As a Measure of Patient Safety

wheelchair%202.jpgFor the first time, Thompson Reuters has included hospital readmission rates as one of the criteria for inclusion in its annual Top 100 Hospitals list.

However, measuring post-discharge care and dealing with factors that can contribute to a person being re-admitted into a hospital, have proved to be very complex and challenging. Hospitals that have included post-discharge care as part of their overall patient safety efforts, have found that there are a range of factors responsible for readmissions. For instance, readmission rates may be higher when an elderly patient is living alone. Many readmissions every year are traced to medication errors. Besides, a person who suffers from multiple medical conditions, could be at a higher risk of readmission.

These aren’t issues that can be tackled easily, because a hospital has little control over what happens once the patient leaves the facility. However, some facilities, as Reuters is reporting, are stepping up their patient follow-up efforts to minimize readmission rates.

At the Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, a pilot program attempted to monitor the results of patient follow up, on minimizing readmission rates. Social workers called at-risk patients after they had been discharged from the hospital to follow-up on how they were doing. Patients were considered to be at a high risk for readmission if they were

  • Above 65 years of age • Lived alone
  • Took seven or more medicines
  • Were discharged to their home, instead of to a nursing facility

The social workers found that more than 60% of the patients they followed up with, had issues with medications that could have possibly increased their risk of having to be admitted back into the facility.

Hospitals have incentive to focus harder on reducing readmission rates. Hospital Compare publishes 30-day readmission rates on its website. Additionally, the health care reform laws that have recently been signed by the Obama administration, include provisions that will limit reimbursements to hospitals for certain nonessential readmissions.

The Indiana medical malpractice lawyers at Miller Muller Mendelson and Kennedy represent injured victims of negligence by doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals, throughout the state of Indiana.