Discharge planning: Include caregivers in the process to reduce readmissions for elderly patients


A new study shows the benefit of integrating caregivers into the discharge process for elderly patients: far fewer readmissions.

Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh’s Institute for Health Policy found that hospitals that involved unpaid family members or caregivers in the discharge planning process had a 25% reduction in the risk of readmission. of elderly patients in hospital within 90 days and a 24% reduction in the risk of being readmitted within 180 days.

The study was published Monday in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. He is the first to quantify the post-discharge impact of integrating caregivers into discharge planning on healthcare costs and resource use.

The transition from hospital to home is a critical time, especially for the elderly. Often there are gaps in adequately preparing families on how to care for patients after discharge.

Researchers systematically reviewed 10,715 scientific publications related to discharge planning for patients and the elderly. The review focused on 15 publications that described randomized control studies of 4,361 patients that the researchers could use to determine the influence of discharge planning on hospital readmissions. The patients had an average age of 70 years. The majority of caregivers were a spouse or partner. Thirty-five percent were adult children.

While this may require hospitals to identify and educate a patient’s family members, the researchers say it’s worth the time and resources, as the end result is improved patient outcomes and reduced readmissions.

“Planning for discharge from hospital is essential in helping family members understand what they need to do to help keep their patient or loved one in the community,” said Juleen Rodakowski, senior author of analysis and assistant professor in the occupational therapy department at Pitt. TribLive.

However, she said more research is needed to determine what type of post-discharge care is most effective and which types of medical conditions benefit the most from post-discharge care.


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