He and his colleagues found one in five Medicare beneficiaries who were discharged from a hospital were readmitted within 30 days and 34% were rehospitalized within 90 days. Moreover, his research found some clues about what was going wrong.
For those patients rehospitalized within 30 days, 50% had not visited a physician's office after discharge. And of those surgical patients readmitted within 30 days, slightly more than two in three patients were rehospitalized for a medical condition, as opposed to a planned surgery.
"The cost to Medicare of unplanned rehospitalization in 2004 was $17.4 billion," his paper said. And he has a two-fold message for those hospitals to pay heed:
Jencks explained the disconnect in a conversation between a hospital discharge planner and a downstream provider at a skilled nursing facility that he personally witnessed. When asked by the hospital discharge planner why so many patients were coming back from the nursing facility, the interchange went like this:
SNF Worker: "The truth is, the information we get from the hospital isn't very helpful in taking care of the patient."