Can a Hospital Admission Be Bad for Your Health?

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Most of us view the hospital as a place of healing, not a place of harm. But the truth is that readmission to the hospital from a nursing home increases — in fact doubles — the likelihood of death. So how can going back to the hospital be dangerous to your health?

In a study conducted at the University of Colorado School of Medicine (in the January 2016 issue of JAMDA, the Journal of Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine), researchers found that patients who were hospitalized, discharged to a nursing home, and then readmitted to the hospital within 30 days doubled their risk of death.

Why? Money could be the culprit. Our healthcare payment system rewards hospitals for early discharge and does not penalize them for readmissions from nursing homes. If hospitals discharge patients before they’re ready, then nursing homes are acting as hospitals without proper resources.

The researcher suggested that better coordination between hospitals and nursing homes would improve this dangerous situation. So, armed with this information, what can we do when we or loved ones enter the hospital? We should ask questions about the appropriateness of discharge. We should ask whether follow-up care is necessary, and whether that care best suits a nursing home or a continued stay in the hospital. And we should continue to stay informed as patients and healthcare consumers.

Interested in more ways to advocate for your well-being? Here are a few nursing home practices you should question.

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