How Can Patients Protect Themselves from Readmissions?
Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) statistics show that one in five hospital patients face readmission within 30 days after discharge. Hospital readmissions remain high across the country for several reasons. Patients may succumb to infections after leaving the hospital, or they may be released before receiving adequate treatment.
Hospitals may also do a poor job of explaining discharge instructions to patients, their families and caregivers. This can also happen when health care providers communicate to patients who do not speak English as a primary language.
How to Avoid Hospital Readmissions
There are several ways patients can protect themselves from readmission.
- Meet with a discharge planner: Consumer Reports suggests patients, their families, or caregivers should schedule appointments with discharge planners. These health care professionals can provide written summaries for how to care for surgical wounds, activity restrictions and a detailed medication list. Discharge planners can also provide test results, dates for follow-up appointments and contact information in case of emergencies.
- Check hospital safety ratings: Patients, families and caregivers can check hospital safety ratings beforehand to identify risk-factors for readmission. You can avoid hospitals with high admission, infection and medical mistake rates.
- Identify at-risk patients: Patients who are older, have preexisting conditions or speak foreign languages may be at higher risk for readmission and hospital mistakes. Communication between patients and healthcare providers should be a major priority for people who fall into these groups.
Can Communication Lower Hospital Readmission Rates?
These are only a few examples of how patients can avoid readmission after discharge. Communication is one of the best ways to prevent readmission. The more patients can learn about their conditions, and what to expect after discharge, the less likely they are to experience readmission.