Study links readmissions to discharge process: 6 takeaways

Patients who have had vascular surgeries are often readmitted to the hospital for a variety of reasons — often preventable — more often than patients who undergo different types of surgeries. These readmissions could be largely avoided if other aspects of the discharge process were improved, according to research led by the University of Missouri in Columbia.

Eight focus groups involving nurses, physicians, staff and patients revealed several areas where changes could shift the hospital discharge process to reduce instances of unplanned hospital readmissions. The study, published in the journal of Research in Nursing & Health identified the following pain points: 

  • Communication deficiencies with regard to whom a patient should contact with any follow-up concerns

  • Staffing shortages across the healthcare workforce

  • Not having enough time to properly educate employees about discharge procedures

  • Difficulties expressed by patients with making follow-up appointments

  • Sending prescriptions and obtaining the medications or wound care needed post-operation

  • Lack of time to adequately educate both patients and family caretakers about post-operative care and questions

"Patients may not always remember what they were told immediately after the surgery when the discharge plans were being discussed," Elizabeth Doss, a nurse practitioner and doctoral student at the university's school of nursing who worked on the study said in a statement. "So, the challenge becomes how do we streamline these communication processes to ensure health care providers, patients and their families are all on the same page …" 

For near term solutions to mitigate readmission and discharge issues, Ms. Doss recommends increasing the use of technology for improving communication snafus that can arise post-operation and making the time to better understand day-to-day issues for key stakeholders involved in discharge processes to find tailored solutions to remediate them.

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