The elderly are particularly vulnerable to readmission after an initial hospital stay. A 2015 study by the American Hospital Association found that nearly 18% of all hospital patients are readmitted within 30 days and that most of those patients were elderly. In fact, 1 in every 5 nursing home residents who stay in the hospital are admitted again within 30 days. For the hospitals themselves, readmissions can be costly. The Affordable Care Act now penalizes hospitals who have high readmission rates. For the elderly, readmission can mean further health issues, depression, and even death.
Readmissions for Conditions Resulting from Time in the Hospital
While hospitals provide necessary and life saving care that other health care facilities and providers are unable to, hospital stays can also wreak havoc on a person’s normal daily routine, their hygiene and eating habits, their overall physical and mental health, as well as their physical strength. Yale cardiologist Dr. Harlan Krumholz analyzed national readmission data and found that most patients returned to the hospital for a medical issue completely separate from the condition for which they were first admitted. He told the New York Times in August that it is his belief that elderly patients are in essence traumatized after a hospital stay, attributed to odd sleeping and wake schedules to accommodate hospital staff’s schedule for testing (blood pressure checks, blood draws, etc), diminished strength from spending all day in a bed, and from consuming different food and new medications. Dr. Krumholz calls the condition “post-hospital syndrome.”