Study: Post-discharge home visits save money and lives of heart patients

Accreditation Insider, February 2, 2016

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A new study by the Society of Thoracic Surgeons discovered that having a physician assistant (PA) visit heart surgery patients at home twice on the week of discharge cut readmissions by 41%.

“Complications can arise in the first week after surgery, and these initial home visits can help diagnose problems earlier, which can keep patients out of the emergency department,” said lead study author John Nabagiez, MD, in a press briefing. “We found that making these two visits is cost effective and keeps patients on the road to recovery, while also reducing hospital readmissions.”

Adult cardiac surgery has one of the highest readmission rates for hospitalized patients and the study examined the cases of 1,185 cardiac surgery patients. Only 10% of patients who received visits on days two and five after discharge were readmitted within the next 30 days as opposed to 17% in the control group. House calls were found to be highly cost efficient as well, with $39 saved for every dollar spent on the program.

“The physician assistants who made the house calls in our study were fully trained cardiac surgery PAs who were actively involved in the preoperative, intraoperative, and postoperative care of our patients,” Nabagiez said. “Unlike standard visiting nurses, our PAs knew each patient personally and understood all of the pertinent issues of the patient’s medical history. They also knew the patient’s individual postoperative course prior to discharge, so they entered the patient’s home already knowing the concerns, if any, of the surgeon and the patient.”

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