Hospitals Discharge Patients Too Quickly, Study Suggests

Hospitals Discharge Patients Too Quickly, Study Suggests
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Two studies conducted by researchers at the University of Maryland Robery H. Smith School of Business have concluded that the average hospital stay is not what it used to be.

There were times when a minor surgery would result in a three day stay in the hospital. Thanks to high demand for hospital space, however, that three day stay is usually done at home in bed resulting in more return visits and an overall decrease in the quality of care.

Both studies highlight a correlation between readmission rates and the occupancy rate of the hospital at the time of discharge. In simpler terms: Patients went home before they were healthy enough to do so, which also suggests that revenue and the rotation of beds may affect discharges. In fact, the studies showed that a patient discharged when the hospitals were at their busiest were fifty percent more likely to return within three days for further treatment.

A Raleigh doctor who wishes to remain anonymous points out that there are often signs at the doctor entrances to local hospitals encouraging rapid discharges due to high demand for bed space. 'The hospital is at or near capacity today,' says a sign in a small cell phone photo. 'We appreciate speedy discharges.'

What can fix this problem? According to the researchers, better planning and logistics.

The researchers recommend better planning and other logistical solutions to avoid these problems.

"Bigger hospitals tend to have this problem over smaller hospitals," points out Brian Reitter, NCCC Vice President. "The larger hospitals are more specialized than smaller hospitals, which results in more people traveling from further away to have procedures. The more demand for bed space, the more pressured a hospital becomes to set up a revolving door system. Delays in getting the next patient to a bed are delays at getting money."

The study suggests that surgeons use checklists before discharging a patient in order to assess the readiness of the patient as well as utilizing unused areas of the hospital for recovery.