Discharge help can cut hospital use
NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted March 9, 2009
Patients who get special help from nurses and pharmacists when leaving the hospital are 30% less likely to be readmitted to the hospital or use the emergency department within 30 days, according to a Feb. 3 Annals of Internal Medicine study.
The randomized trial compared 370 patients who received systematic discharge planning help with 368 who got usual care at a Boston academic safety-net hospital. The interventions included a "nurse discharge advocate" who gave patients leaving the hospital individualized care instructions and helped them reconcile their medications and arrange follow-up appointments. Within days of discharge, patients got a call from a pharmacist to review medications and reinforce the care plan.
This systematic approach to discharge planning worked best with patients who had used the hospital in the six months before their current stay.
Note: This item originally appeared at http://www.ama-assn.org/amednews/2009/03/09/prbf0309.htm.