Dartmouth Study

Recent study conducted by The Dartmouth Institute found that one in six Medicare patients is readmitted to the hospital within 30 days after being discharged. And more than half do not see their doctor within two weeks after leaving the hospital.

The researchers analyzed the hospital records of 10.7 million Medicare patients and found, “widespread and systematic failures in coordinating care for patients after they leave the hospital,” said David C. Goodman, M.D., M.S., lead author and co-principal investigator for the Dartmouth Atlas Project. “Irrespective of the cause, unnecessary hospital readmissions lead to more tests and treatments, more time away from home and family, and higher health care costs.”

According to CMS the costs associated with avoidable readmissions exceed $17 billion a year. To combat this, Medicare will begin implementing plans in 2013 to reduce these costs by imposing penalties on hospitals with excessive readmission numbers. The penalties are based on the hospital’s total Medicare billings and will start at one percent in 2013, then increase to two percent in 2014, and three percent in 2015. “The need to develop more efficient systems of care that include discharge planning and care coordination is clear,” said Elliott S. Fisher, M.D., M.P.H., report author and co-principal investigator of the Dartmouth Atlas Project. When confronted with the threat of considerable financial risk, Medicare hopes hospitals will take the steps necessary to improve their systems of care and reduce readmissions.

Top 5 reasons for patient readmissions:

In a companion piece to this study Dartmouth published Care About Your Care, which lists some of the reasons patients are readmitted. The top five:

  • Patients may not fully understanding what’s wrong with them
  • Patients may be confused over which medications to take and when
  • Hospitals don’t provide patients or doctors with important information or test results
  • Patients do not schedule a follow up appointment with their doctor
  • Family members lack proper knowledge to provide adequate

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