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Longer hospital stays might reduce readmissions from post-acute care facilities

March 07, 2017

More than 25 percent of Medicare beneficiaries who are admitted to the hospital are sent to a post-acute care facility (a health facility like a rehabilitation or skilled nursing center used instead of a hospital) after being discharged. However, more than 23 percent of these older adults face readmission to the hospital within 30 days, and often within the first week.

Researchers examined data from a study that included 81,173 older adults who experienced hospital readmissions from post-acute care facilities. Their study was published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

The researchers studied information from people 65-years-old and older who were readmitted from post-acute care facilities for any cause within 7 days after being discharged from the hospital. Then, the researchers compared their findings to data from older adults who were readmitted between 8 and 30 days after their hospital discharge.

The researchers discovered that older adults who are readmitted to hospitals within one week tend to have a heavier burden of chronic disease than people who aren't readmitted as quickly.

They also learned that a shorter original stay in the hospital is linked to earlier readmission to the hospital. Other factors that influence a quicker readmission to the hospital include living in a rural area, having been originally admitted for a heart attack or pneumonia, and having been discharged from smaller hospitals.

According to the researchers, these findings support the theory that older people may be discharged "quicker and sicker." They suggested that people whose initial hospital stays were shorter could have either been sicker when they were discharged or had insufficient time in the hospital to recover fully.

The researchers suggested that hospital strategies that ensure older adults are healthy enough for discharge could help prevent early hospital readmissions from post-acute care facilities. Good communication between you and your healthcare providers may be a great place to start.
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This summary is from "Factors Associated with Early Readmission among Patients Discharged to Post-Acute Care Facilities." It appears online ahead of print in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. The study authors are Carolyn Horney, MD; Roberta Capp, MD, MHS; Rebecca Boxer, MD, MS; and Robert E. Burke, MD, MS.

About the Health in Aging Foundation

This research summary was developed as a public education tool by the Health in Aging Foundation. The Foundation is a national non-profit established in 1999 by the American Geriatrics Society to bring the knowledge and expertise of geriatrics healthcare professionals to the public. We are committed to ensuring that people are empowered to advocate for high-quality care by providing them with trustworthy information and reliable resources. Last year, we reached nearly 1 million people with our resources through HealthinAging.org. We also help nurture current and future geriatrics leaders by supporting opportunities to attend educational events and increase exposure to principles of excellence on caring for older adults. For more information or to support the Foundation's work, visit http://www.HealthinAgingFoundation.org.

American Geriatrics Society

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