The day that an elderly patient ends his or her visit to a hospital in North San Diego County is always a happy one. Even if a long rehabilitation and recovery period lies ahead, anticipating the eventual return to a familiar and comfortable home environment does much to make the process an easier one.
Unfortunately, hospital researchers report, many of the seniors that go home after their stay end up back at the hospital in just a short amount of time. In North San Diego County, elderly patients who go home without fully understanding their medication routine, scheduled checkups, or activity restrictions run the risk of further health problems and another visit to the hospital.
At a number of hospitals around the nation, doctors and nurses are working to counteract this dangerous and expensive challenge by scheduling visits at a special clinic immediately following a patient’s discharge from the hospital. In North San Diego County and other areas of California, according to this plan a discharged patient would visit with a hospital official at a post-discharge clinic in order to review and clarify the prescriptions, instructions, and appointments assigned by the patient’s doctors. By returning home with a better grasp of his or her responsibilities, the hope is that an elderly individual would be more likely to make a full recovery and communicate information clearly to caregivers.
So far, the professionals supervising these experiments report a high measure of success. Because the program has a very short history, it is difficult to quantify its effect on reducing return hospital visits, but the general impression so far is that patients, especially seniors who may not even know what questions to ask in the confusing situation of packing up and leaving the hospital, are going home with a more thorough preparation after attending the post-discharge clinic visit.
Of course, the help of a family member or home care provider is vital for a senior recovering from a visit to the hospital. A recent study shows that over eight percent of adults who are discharged from a hospital return for another visit within thirty days. This readmission is especially strenuous on an elderly person, and if a little extra time spent explaining prescriptions and rehabilitation needs can reduce that percentage, it is worth the effort. With a partnership between hospital staff and home caregivers, a senior’s return home from the hospital in North San Diego County can be successful and permanent.
For more information, see Hospitals use post-discharge clinics to cut readmissions.
Originally posted 2011-12-14 12:20:05.