Quality & Patient Safety

Rehospitalization rate provides glimpse into bigger healthcare concerns

Patient Safety Monitor, June 1, 2009

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A study published in the April 2 New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) shows that 20% of Medicare patients are readmitted to the hospital from which they were recently discharged within one month. That figure jumps to 34% when looking at a three-month period.
The data, representing Medicare claims collected between 2003 and 2004, show that it is increasingly important to have a good communication plan in place among caregivers and patients at the time of discharge. The presence of a strong continuum of care can lead to lower rehospitalization rates.
“In order to address this issue, we are going to wind up addressing the most profound issues in healthcare today—issues like a system which has become provider-centered rather than patient- and family-centered,” says Stephen Jencks, MD, MPH, a lead author of the study and a consultant in healthcare safety and quality. “If your concerns stop when the patient goes out the door of the hospital or start when the patient comes in the door of your office, you’re not going to provide the care that’s necessary to keep people from being rehospitalized.”

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