In-home caregiving can help reduce the nearly 20 percent of Medicare patients who are readmitted to the hospital within 30 days. If someone you love has been or will soon be released from heart surgery or urgent care, you should be aware that patients and their family members have some control over the healing process, and can help avoid unwanted hospital readmissions.
This year approximately two-thirds of hospitals will pay penalties to Medicare for excessive readmissions of heart attack, heart failure, and pneumonia patients. The government is fining hospitals whose readmission rates are higher than medical models predict they should be, in an attempt to make medical treatment more effective and less costly. U.S. Government analysts put the cost of avoidable readmissions at $17 billion a year.
In-home Caregiving Makes the Difference
One big step you can take is to look at in-home caregiving. Whether by an agency, a relative, or friends, in-home caregiving is there to make daily home visits when a family member can’t be there. Why is this so crucial? There are a dozen little things patients can overlook every day that affect their health outcomes after pneumonia or major surgery. These range from keeping the kitchen counters clean, to avoiding tripping on stairs or in the bathroom, to monitoring the incision site. But even more crucial are following hospital release instructions and taking medications exactly as directed.
In-home Caregiving Reduced Medication Errors
The second biggest reason that seniors are admitted into hospitals, behind falling, is medication errors and mix-ups.
“About 40 percent of deteriorating patient conditions can be attributed to medication error—overuse, under use, or misuse.” says CEO Wayne Bazzle of Cycle Care Solutions. It is crucial not to leave the hospital or pharmacy until you and the patient fully understand the frequency, uses, and common side effects of each medication.
The nurse or social worker and family caregiver should make a chart showing the dosage, color and shape of each pill. Then in-home caregiving aides can use the chart to make sure your loved one is taking all their medication in the right doses, as well as look after their physical safety. Your in-home caregiver will be there to monitor the patient’s recovery by keeping an eye out for side effects, malnutrition, or infection, thus greatly increasing their chances of avoiding hospital readmissions.