Avoiding a Return Trip to the Hospital

Dr. Cleary speaks about helping patients stay involved with their medical care.

One out of five hospitalized Medicare patients needs to return to the hospital a second time within 30 days of their first discharge.

A second hospital admission, shortly after the first, is a no-win situation for everyone concerned about an elder parent. Patients are often sicker, they are unnecessarily exposed to other hospital bacteria, and families of the patient have more worries and parent monitoring. Moreover, Medicare spends a lot more money — 17 billion dollars — on these readmissions.

A blog post at The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) website, explains a lot more about preventing Medicare patient hospital readmissions. Written by the agency’s director, Carolyn Clancy, M.D., the post provides links to research, successful hospital readmission prevention programs, and patient guides. Dr. Clancy’s columns are also available at the AARP website.

Researchers increasingly believe that the problems that cause the second hospital admissions can be prevented if a patient receives the right discharge support the first time around. These support measures include better assistance with medications, follow-up monitoring to identify worrisome symptoms, and scheduling follow-up medical appointments before a Medicare patient leaves the hospital as well as ensuring that patients get to those appointments.

All of Dr. Clancy’s regular blog posts aim to help patients become more knowledgeable and savvy health care consumers. AHRQ also offers a series of informational videos t0 guide people as they use the health care services.

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