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The Issue of Boomerang Hospitalizations for Nursing Home Patients

Posted on in Nursing Home Abuse

Illinois nursing home abuse and neglect lawyersThe arm of the federal government tasked with providing health care coverage to seniors and the disabled is taking aim at “boomerang hospitalizations” of nursing home residents. Medicare officials have begun taking steps to address high hospital readmission rates, especially for patients who already require skilled nursing care and will reportedly increase those efforts on the nursing home side by this fall.

What Is a Boomerang Hospitalization?

Many nursing home patients require acute medical attention in a hospital at some point during the stay at a nursing home. This is understandable, considering those in nursing homes are there because they are already dealing with fairly serious injuries, illnesses, and other conditions. The problem, however, seems to be beginning when patients are released from the hospital and sent back to their nursing homes. According to reports, 20 percent of Medicare patients who are discharged from a hospital to a nursing home are readmitted to the hospital within 30 days. This number is 27 percent higher for Medicare nursing home patients than for Medicare patients who do not require nursing home care.

The phenomenon of a quick readmission is called a “boomerang hospitalization” as a reference to the thrown hunting tool that returns to the thrower in midair. Experts suggest that government payment policies have inadvertently led to a pattern of back-and-forth transfers between hospitals and nursing homes for far too many patients.

Explaining the Difference

It is reasonable for the readmission rate of nursing home patients to be slightly higher than that of the general population because of the other health issues that nursing home patients often face. However, the care available in a nursing home should be able to offset at least some of the difference. The readmission disparity between Medicare nursing home patients and general Medicare patients seems to suggest other problems.

One concern is that hospitals are simply releasing patients too quickly, especially when the patients have come from and are going back to a nursing home. This practice places increasingly vulnerable patients back under the care of nursing homes sooner than may be ideal. Many nursing homes already run on minimal staff, and the added strain of additional patients can lead to errors, substandard care, and the need for rehospitalization.

What Is Medicare Doing to Change Things?

In 2013, Medicare began issuing fines to hospitals with unacceptably high readmission rates. By October of this year, the government will go to work on the other side of the issue. Nursing homes will be eligible for bonuses or subject to penalties based on their Medicare hospital readmission rates. The goal is to incentivize getting things right the first time and to eliminate bouncing nursing home patients back and forth to the hospital.

Call Us for Help

If you have a loved one in a nursing home who is being sent to the hospital more often than necessary, contact an experienced Chicago nursing home abuse and neglect attorney. There may be an issue with the care your loved one is receiving, and you may be able to seek compensation on their behalf. Call 312-535-4625 for a free consultation at Schwartz Injury Law today.

 

Sources:

https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2018/06/13/619259541/medicare-takes-aim-at-boomerang-hospitalizations-of-nursing-home-patients

https://www.cnbc.com/2018/05/20/hospital-pressures-are-improving-quality-of-care-for-patients-at-home.html

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