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Closing Hospitals’ Revolving Doors

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation issued a new report on the rate of hospital readmissions for elderly patients. The results were not promising.View an interactive graphic to see how readmission rates vary by community.

The rate of the hospital readmissions was unchanged from 2008 to 2010, finding that one in eight Medicare surgical patients and one in six medical patients were readmitted to the hospital within 30 days from their first discharge.

Hospitals are essential parts of the health care delivery system. However, they are expensive and in many cases can be avoided with better discharge planning, care coordination, and effective primary care.

The report found that patients with similar illnesses and health status have very different chances of hospital readmission that vary depending on where they live. According to a 2011 Dartmouth Atlas report, more than half of discharged Medicare patients do not see a primary clinician or specialist in an outpatient setting within two weeks of leaving the hospital, indicating low levels of care coordination.

By 2020, Michigan will have 300,000 additional people over the age 65 who will be new Medicare beneficiaries. Higher rates of needless hospital readmissions increases health care costs and limits access to care for other patients by over-utilizing health care resources.



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