Too Many of Us Are Ending Up Back in the Hospital After Being Discharged
A recent report by Dartmouth University researchers revealed that one in eight Medicare surgery patients ended up back to the hospital within 30 days of being released. And, surprisingly, the numbers were even worse for non-surgical patients – one in six!
Based on data from 2010, the results were no better than they were in 2004.
Hospital readmissions are costly – they cost Medicare $26 billion a year. And, according to the study, nearly $17 billion of that cost is avoidable!
Re-admission rates vary widely among counties here in South Florida. For 2010, Miami-Dade County had the state’s highest re-admittance rate – 15.1% of surgical patients within thirty days. Broward County was at 14.4%. And Palm Beach County stood at 11.8…the only one of the region’s three counties lower than the national average of 12.4%.
Last year, the Centers for Medicare began imposing financial penalties on hospitals with the worst rates. But there doesn’t seem to have been much improvement since then.
The solutions, according to one of the authors of the study, may lie mostly with doctors. They should be taking more time to communicate effectively with their patients…and to make sure their patients understand these communications. Dr. Chiang-Hua Chang says that doctors need to be clear about when patients should take their medications. About when they should call their doctors. And that they should have follow-up appointments with their own physicians.
Kind of discouraging, isn’t it? We go into hospitals with the reasonable expectation of coming out healthier…not ending up back there in a few weeks.
Medicare can be a nightmare of bureaucracy, inefficiency, and frustration. And every interaction you have with Medicare is likely to lead to even more frustration. But we can help.
At The Law Offices of Alice Reiter Feld and Associates, we practice Elder Law. Over the past 34 years, we’ve helped thousands of South Florida families navigate the Medicare Maze. And we’ve helped them as well, with comprehensive estate planning, wills, trusts, powers of attorney, long-term care planning, asset-protection plans, and assistance with Medicaid and the VA.
We can help you, too. And we’re only a phone call away.
The Medicare Merry-Go-Round