1 in 4 people admitted to a nursing facility are re-hospitalized within 30 days

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Litigating nursing facility cases for many years, I was happy to see that educational institutions are seeing the trend, that we have seen for years.  Ruth Tappen, Ed.D., Christine E. Lynn Eminent Scholar and a professor in FAU’s College of Nursing, along with colleagues, did a study and found that nearly 1 in 4 people admitted to a skilled nursing facility from acute care are re-hospitalized within 30 days at a cost of $14.3 billion annually. It is estimated that as many as two-thirds of those hospitalizations are avoidable. The study found that the role of family members of nursing home residents heavily influences decisions related to transferring residents to the hospital. Consequently, Tappen and her collegues found that nursing home residents and their families need to have clear information about their treatment options and health conditions in order to make the best decisions concerning hospitalizations, Specifically, they identified the need for more effective decision support tools to help avoid two of the three most frequent reasons given by nursing home staff for avoidable hospital transfers: the insistence by the resident or family member for the transfer, and a communication lapse between nursing staff, primary care providers and families. Their findings helped The Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing at Florida Atlantic University  received an award for   $50,000 for a evidence-based decision guide they’ve developed for nursing home residents and their families titled “Go to the Hospital or Stay Here? A Decision Guide for Patients and Families.”

According to Tappen, “hospitalization carries many risks including falls, pressure ulcers, infections, decline in function, and disorientation.  One way that we can effectively inform patients and facilitate the decision-making process is by using tools that support the exchange of information between the health care provider and the patient. Even when the resident has a palliative condition that can be treated in the nursing home, there are some instances where family members may still demand hospitalization.  They might just be uninformed about the actual prognosis of the resident or simply unaware of the treatment options available in the nursing home. This is why tools like the guide we have developed are crucial to enhance communication and information sharing between all parties involved in the decision-making process.”

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