Medication Confusion Sending Medicare Patients Back to the Hospital

The new push to prevent hospital readmissions in Medicare patients is in full swing, and Kaiser Health News reports on some interesting findings so far.

In a nutshell, hospitals say many patients don’t even understand what they’re supposed to do during the recovery process. That’s sending them back for more costly, stressful hospital stays.

Take medications for example:

Teresa De Peralta, a nurse practitioner who runs [one hospital’s high-risk discharge program], said they frequently find that patients don’t realize a drug they were prescribed in the hospital does the same thing as one they have already been taking…

Patients taking the wrong dose or mixing medicines that react badly often end up back in the hospital. A survey of 377 elderly patients at Yale-New Haven Hospital, published this year in The Journal of General Internal Medicine, discovered that 81 percent of the patients either didn’t understand what all their prescriptions were for; were prescribed the wrong drug or the wrong dose; were taken off a drug they needed, or never picked up a new prescription.

No wonder people get readmitted, eh?

As a little aside: We noticed that if you rolled up all the initiatives from the various hospitals into one, you’d have part of Smooth-Transition Care, our personalized readmission-prevention program. (One of its features is a coach who helps keep an eye on medications, prescriptions and the like.) Care is becoming more of a smooth continuum, and we’re excited to be helping push this change.

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