Medicare enrollees hospital re-admissions for the same infection they were originally hospitalized for — is soaring, a new study shows.
Researchers at the University of Michigan evaluated 320,000 hospital discharge records for Medicare patients, aged 65 and older and found that 2.5 percent returned to the hospital within a month. The reason for the quick return? To treat the same infection they left with — also called a linked infection.
Medicare Enrollees: Why The Quick Re-Admissions?
According to researchers, a 2.5% perecent re-admission to the hospital within a month, is too high. It should be close to zero for enrollees readmitted for something like an infection. Indeed, the researchers found that most enrollees were re-admitted for an infection called Clostridioides difficile — a potentially deadly germ that causes diarrhea, fever and stomach pain or nausea. Urinary infections was the second leading reason for re-admission. Both conditions are treated with antibiotics and it’s odd that hospitals readmitted these patients.
Currently, Medicare provides financial incentives to hospitals to minimize the number of infections patients pick up during their stay.
If a Medicare beneficiary gets certain types of infections while they are in the hospital, the government won’t pay the hospital to treat it — and the patient doesn’t have to pay, either. Extending such programs to monitor whether infections persist once a patient is released may help to reduce re-admissions.
Recovery Post Discharge: Venue Is Important
Where you recover after a hospital visit is important. A sub-standard environment could land you back in the hospital quickly.
Indeed, this study found that Patients who go from the hospital to home — with or without home care — were 38 percent more likely to return to the hospital with a linked infection than those discharged to skilled nursing facilities.
The findings indicate that hospitals should consider sending patients with infections to skilled nursing facilities, and not necessarily home. The level of care provided in a skilled facility is superior to that found at home.
Hospital re-admissions are a quality indicator. If you don’t know how to manage your condition, you could be re-admitted in a very short time.
Medicare Enrollees: Senior Citizens
For senior citizens, a hospital re-admission can be dangerous. Older patients are more likely to stay in bed and move around less at hospitals.
The Michigan researchers recommend that seniors and their caregivers learn about the risks of poor care management. Ask questions if you don’t understand the discharge instructions. Take your medications at the exact times described. Don’t miss a dosage. And, make sure to follow all of your doctor’s instructions.
It’s best to ask your doctor and the hospital where is the best place for you to recover after your hospital discharge.