Due to insurance company policies, many hospitals are rushed to discharge patients quickly, even those who may benefit from a longer stay. Many of the patients who suffer from these early releases are released back to nursing homes, who are often faced with issues such as understaffing and are ill-equipped to tend to patients who might be suffering from post-hospitalization complications. This often results in the patients being re-hospitalized, a process that some call “boomeranging.” Now, Medicare is looking to combat this problem, as NPR reports.
Going from hospital to nursing home and back to the hospital, something industry people call “boomerang” patients, is not all that uncommon.
One in five Medicare patients discharged to nursing homes from hospitals return within 30 days. Many of these returns are for preventable conditions, like dehydration, infections, and medical errors.
For decades, nursing homes have been financially rewarded due to government incentives given to both hospitals and nursing homes for the transfers. In fact, there’s an unfortunate saying in the nursing home industry: “When in doubt, ship them out.”
Now, Medicare is looking to tackle the problem of patients pinging between hospitals and long-term care facilities. In 2013, Medicare began fining hospitals with high readmission rates. This policy was in the hopes that hospitals would refer patients to nursing homes with higher ratings.
Beginning this October, Medicare will begin addressing the other side of the coin. Nursing homes will be given incentives, or possibly assessed penalties based on their rehospitalization rate.