Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

feeling fine

You can help avoid return trip to hospital

Washington Post

It's a return trip nobody wants to take: You are discharged from the hospital, only to find yourself readmitted a few days later.

More and more people are finding themselves in this revolving door — at a cost to both hospitals and patients. A 2009 study in the New England Journal of Medicine showed that 20 percent of Medicare patients discharged from the hospital had to be readmitted within 30 days, and 34 percent were back within 90 days. Those return trips cost the health care system more than $17 billion over one year.

Readmission rates have increasingly become a measure of a hospital's quality of care. As part of the Affordable Care Act, Medicare is planning to tie payment to readmission statistics, even penalizing hospitals for readmissions deemed avoidable.

With that punishment looming, hospitals and health policy experts are trying to figure out why so many patients are making round trips.

Hospitals cannot reduce readmission rates on their own. Success will depend on a coordinated approach involving primary-care doctors, pharmacists, an improved system of electronic health records and, perhaps most important, patients themselves. There are several simple but vital steps that patients should follow before and after leaving the hospital:

• Make sure you understand your diagnosis, and what was done to you.

• Know whom to follow up with (physical therapist, your regular doctor, a nurse, etc.).

• Schedule a followup appointment with your regular doctor before leaving the hospital; make sure to see him or her soon after discharge.

• Ask your hospital doctor to communicate with your regular doctor.

• Go over every medication on your discharge list with your doctor or nurse. Compare those drugs with medications you were taking before you entered the hospital to ensure there are no duplications or dangerous interactions.

• Get contact information for any questions or problems you might have after discharge.

• Ask what to expect during your recovery and what symptoms to look for should something go wrong.

• If some test results are pending, make sure you know how to obtain the results.

• Before you sign your discharge summary, make sure you understand everything. Ask someone — a nurse, a doctor, a social worker — to explain it to you.

• Bring a copy of your discharge summary to your followup appointment.

All of this increases the odds that, when you leave the hospital after surgery or illness, you won't be coming back again soon. The health care system will save money, and you'll be able to undertake your recovery, in your own bed, at home. And who wouldn't prefer that?

You can help avoid return trip to hospital 12/16/11 [Last modified: Friday, December 16, 2011 3:30am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Washington Post.
    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Jones: Bucs need success to get national respect

    Bucs

    Tampa Bay Times columnist Tom Jones offers up his Two Cents on the world of sports.

    No respect

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Dirk Koetter walks the field during the second day of mandatory minicamp at One Buccaneer Place in Tampa, Fla., on Wednesday, June 14, 2017. LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times
  2. Hopes fade after landslide destroys Chinese village (w/video)

    World

    Crews searching through the night in the rubble left by a landslide that buried a mountain village under tons of soil and rocks in southwestern China found 15 bodies, but more than 110 more people remained missing.

    Vehicles and people line a road leading to the site of a landslide in Xinmo village in Mao County on Saturday in southwestern China’s Sichuan Province. More than 100 people remained missing after the village was buried under tons of rocks and soil.
  3. Rookie Jake Faria dissatisfied with performance in Rays' loss to Orioles

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The rookie pitcher walked to his locker Saturday after tossing the fourth quality start in as many tries to begin his career. He held the potent Orioles bats to three runs and for six innings gave his team a chance to win.

    Orioles third baseman Manny Machado tags out the Rays’ Mallex Smith at third after a rundown in the first inning.
  4. Thousands converge in two St. Pete locations celebrating LGBT rights

    Human Interest

    ST. PETERSBURG — Tom Rockhill didn't know what to expect Saturday, but by noon people were knocking on the door of his bar Right Around the Corner in Grand Central.

    (From left to right) Emma Chalut 18, gets a rainbow sticker on her cheek from her sister Ellie, 15 both of Jacksonville before the annual St. Pete Pride parade in downtown St. Petersburg on Saturday. This year the route was changed from the Grand Central and Kenwood area to Bayshore Drive.
[EVE EDELHEIT   |   Times]
  5. Retired Florida Supreme Court Justice Parker Lee McDonald dies

    TALLAHASSEE — A former Florida Supreme Court justice, who wrote a decision that prevented lawyers from excluding jurors because of their race, has died.

    Former Florida Supreme Court Justice Parker Lee McDonald died Saturday, the court said in a statement. He was 93.