Study: Hospitalization and discharge procedures send patients back to hospital

Accreditation Insider, November 16, 2015

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Even when patients are being cared for, the stress of being in hospitalized can put their health in jeopardy. Patients tend to sleep, eat and drink less and experience higher levels of stress than normal while in a hospital, making them more vulnerable to additional medical issues.

Post-hospital Syndrome (PHS) is the term for when a hospitalized patients are readmitted within 90 days after being discharged. A study released earlier this month by Loyola University Medical Center examined the cases of 57,988 hernia repair patients and found 1,332 had PHS. The study found that 7.6% of PHS patients had to be readmitted within 30 days of surgery and 8.3% were sent to the emergency department.

According to a New England Journal of Medicine study, 20% of Medicare patients had PHS and were often readmitted for a different ailment than the one for which they were originally treated. The study found that 63% of heart failure patients were readmitted for a different condition, as were 64% of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) patients and 71% of pneumonia patients. It also found that the major causes of readmission were infection, gastrointestinal conditions, mental illness, metabolic derangements, heart failure, pneumonia, COPD, and trauma.

One way of dealing with PHS is by improving hospital discharge procedures. A 2013 study by researchers from Yale School of Medicine found that only 40% out of 400 elderly patients couldn’t accurately describe their diagnosis after a post-discharge interview. One of the reasons that researchers found was that the language in the discharge forms was often hard to comprehend for a layperson, such as saying, “myocardial infarction” instead of heart attack.

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