What’s Your Hospital Discharge Horror Story?

Results of a study released today prove what you probably have experienced first-hand: Patients discharged from the hospital often return to the hospital simply because they (and their family caregivers) arrive home ill-prepared to manage treatments and care.

Key findings of the study show:

  • Almost one fifth (19.6%) of the 11,855,702 Medicare beneficiaries who had been discharged from a hospital were rehospitalized within 30 days, and 34.0% were rehospitalized within 90 days;
  • 67.1% of patients who had been discharged with medical conditions and 51.5% of those who had been discharged after surgical procedures were rehospitalized or died within the first year after discharge;
  • In the case of 50.2% of the patients who were rehospitalized within 30 days after a medical discharge to the community, there was no bill for a visit to a physician’s office between the time of discharge and rehospitalization;
  • Among patients who were rehospitalized within 30 days after a surgical discharge, 70.5% were rehospitalized for a medical condition
  • Study researchers estimate that the cost to Medicare of unplanned rehospitalizations in 2004 was $17.4 billion.

Researchers offer the following recommendations for hospital staff to avoid re-hospitalizations:

  • Make a doctor’s appointment for departing patients;
  • Provide patients a list of all their medications, explain what to do at home and where to call if they run into problems;
  • Call the patient within two days after the discharge to home;
  • Make sure that the patient’s doctor knows they were in the hospital.

As a family caregiver, you know first-hard the upheaval that can be a hospital discharge. Too little notice, too little time, too little training, too few instructions.

What’s your hospital discharge horror story?

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About Denise Brown

I began working with family caregivers in 1990 and launched CareGiving.com in 1996 to help and support them. Through my blog, I share words of comfort and offer coping strategies and tips. I also write opinion pieces about recent research, community programs and media coverage of caregiving issues. I've written several caregiving books, including "The Caregiving Years, Six Stages to a Meaningful Journey," "Take Comfort, Reflections of Hope for Caregivers" and "After Caregiving Ends, A Guide to Beginning Again." You can purchase my books and schedule a coaching call with me in our store.

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