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At last you are being discharged.

You are doubtless looking forward to being in a familiar place, to sleeping uninterrupted in your own bed and to getting a square meal. You hope you’ll be able to move around more and that you can get back on your regular meds, especially if those in the hospital made you delirious at times.

You are being discharged. You must be better. But there are potholes in the road to recovery.

Experiencing adverse events when discharged to a nursing home

A recent study by the Office of the Inspector General found that 40% of community dwelling adults admitted to a nursing home for rehab after a hospitalization experienced an adverse event. Of these, 60% were preventable, led by falls, exacerbations of pre-existing disease, fluid and electrolyte management problems.

The percentage of people returning to a nursing whom who suffered adverse events was similar (37.3%) but 70.4% of those adverse events were preventable of ameliorable. In addition to falls, the most common problems included skin care and pressure ulcers.

The difference may reflect the difference in the health and well-being of people who go to the hospital from home as opposed to those who enter from a nursing home and are more likely to have been bed bound or largely so before they went to the hospital. But both are prone to acquired infections (52.5%) and adverse drug events (16.9%), 45-60% of which are thought to be preventable.

Apparently there is truth in the old adage: a hospital is no place to be sick.

Be alert for signs of difficulty when discharged to a nursing home

But leaving does not mean that the days ahead are clear sailing. If you are being discharged to a nursing home, be careful. Be alert and have your loved ones be alert for signs of difficulty on the road to recovery.

How to pick a nursing home

Adverse Events in Long Term Care Residents Transitioning from Hospital Back to Nursing Home Levinson DR, Adverse Events in SNF: National Incidents Among Medicare Beneficiaries Washing D OIG, HHS, 2014

 

Elder law attorney, Terry Garrett, is a member of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys and is an Approved Guardianship Attorney. She assists people in elder law, estate and special needs planning, guardianship and settling estates. She graduated with honors from Cornell University. She was on the Dean’s List at Wharton Business School. She earned her J.D. at Columbia Law School, receiving the Parker Award and a Mellon Fellowship.

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