In my last blog, I wrote about a client who had multiple hospitalizations and rehab stays within a three-month period of time. These patients who go back and forth from hospital to home to hospital again are commonly called “bounce backs” by the medical community. These bounce backs are a significant problem in our healthcare system.
The transition time between hospitalization or rehab and going back home can be a difficult period for many patients. It is particularly difficult for seniors who are living alone or living far away from children and other family members. At first when arriving back home, many are often not fully recovered enough to take on the challenges of keeping up with new prescriptions, treatments, or therapy. Patients with heart failure, lung disease, or diabetes need to clearly understand how to properly take their medications or they may quickly develop serious problems leading to re-hospitalization.
Most people don’t have a good plan in place for how to take care of themselves in case of an unexpected hospitalization or even after a scheduled surgery. That plan is more important than ever with our current short stays at hospitals. Did you know that in the 1990s, the average length of stay for a hip replacement was nine days? Nowadays, some patients return home within 24 hours of surgery.
During the first few days after hospitalization, up to 20 percent of patients experience an adverse reaction to their medication. Readmissions to the hospital in the first 30 days after discharge also occurs in about 20 percent of older adults.
One way to plan ahead and avoid post hospital stay complications is to put a transitional care team in place. Some hospitals have started reducing readmissions by using transitional care teams who follow the patients closely after discharge and communicate with other providers such as physicians, pharmacists, and social workers. Unfortunately, not many hospitals have invested in this type of care planning.
So, you should think ahead by putting together your own support team that can help you if you end up in the hospital or a rehab facility. Severino Health Advisors offers independent health advocacy and care management. We will be there to make sure you get safely back home from the hospital—and that you have a support plan in place to keep you from bouncing back.