Published at Fierce Healthcare on March 5, 2010
As a physician who works as a hospitalist and a primary-care doctor, I understand the complexity of discharging a patient from the hospital, and all the moving pieces that must come together to successfully transition a patient back to the outpatient setting. If even one link in the chain fails, a patient often ends up back in the emergency department and/or readmitted to the hospital as, in hospital-speak, a “bounce-back.”
These readmissions are like a canary in a coal mine, alerting us that our hospital-outpatient continuum is seriously disconnected and dysfunctional. And Medicare is now tracking readmissions for several diagnoses while threatening to withhold payment to hospitals for readmissions.
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