Can ER visits following hospital discharges be prevented?

Can trips to the ER following surgical discharge be avoided?

As we age, it's common for health problems to occur. While these include a variety of reasons, in some cases surgery is required. However, what you may find surprising is that seniors who undergo surgery are likely to visit the emergency room in the month that follows their procedures.

Quality of care
It's well known that most re-admissions to the hospital following surgeries have to do with poor post-discharge care coordination. What researchers from the University of Michigan wanted to figure out is why so many elderly patients return to the ER following surgery discharge.1

As much as one in five older patients who undergo common procedures – angioplasties, coronary artery bypasses and hip fracture repairs, to name a few – find themselves being admitted to the ER within a month of being discharged from the hospital. Professionals from U of M believe that these hospitals should be graded based on these rates, as some facilities included in the study had rates that were four times higher than others.2

Research was collected based on information gathered from more than 2.3 million Medicare beneficiaries. These individuals each had one of six standard operations performed on them over the course of a 3-year period. Of the participants, 17 percent went to the ER once, while another 4 percent returned two or more times. Additionally, these visits often resulted in another hospital stay.

"This research is a high-altitude look at this problem, and suggests that we should really be doing more investigation into what is driving the frequency with which patients need to come into the emergency department," Dr. Keith Kocher, lead author of the study, said in a statement.

So, what's the solution? Professionals from U of M believe that ER visits for this group of individuals can be limited by coordinating care with patients at the time of discharge. That means, coordinating care and developing management plans for the individuals. Some may even benefit from at-home nursing assistance, in which a health care professional is able to assist in recovery and treatment. However, the researches feel as though the topic deserves further investigation.

Postoperative patients can turn to Medex Supply for medical supplies, including wound care supplies that will help prevent infection, such as disposable gloves.

1 Health Affairs, "Emergency department visits after surgery are common for Medicare patients, suggesting opportunities to improve care" September 2013
2 University of Michigan Health System, "ER visits after surgery: Study finds high rate among seniors and lots of variation among hospitals" September 9, 2013

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