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Illinois nursing home abuse attorneysWhile nursing homes are often seen as hospital-type facilities, a nursing home is not a hospital. Hospitals provide acute care for patients who require it, with doctors largely taking responsibility for overseeing each patient. A nursing home or skilled nursing facility provides 24-hour care at a comparatively lower level than that available in a hospital, with nurses generally providing patient oversight.

It is not uncommon for a patient in a nursing home to require hospitalization from time to time, but recent reports suggest that too many nursing home patients are being discharged from the hospital only to end up back in the hospital within 30 days. These readmissions are so concerning that the federal government has announced it would be altering Medicare payments to nearly 15,000 nursing homes and skilled nursing facilities across the country based on how often residents went back to the hospital within a month of leaving. As a result, some 4,000 facilities will get bonuses while almost 11,000 will have their payments lowered.

Preventable Admissions

According to several analyses, the hospitalization of nursing home patients has been decreasing over the last few years. Experts say that in 2016, however, 11 percent of nursing home-to-hospital admissions could have been avoided with better medical care in the nursing facilities—many of which included patients who went back to the hospital after a prior admission and discharge

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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.

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