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Nursing home patients in Pittsburgh often go back to hospital

| Wednesday, June 13, 2018, 3:18 p.m.

Nursing homes in Pittsburgh often send elderly patients back to the hospital within 30 days of their admission, according to a Kaiser Health News analysis.

The analysis of 695 nursing homes in the United States found that half of the 32 nursing homes in Pittsburgh exceed the state average — 20 percent — of patients who are rehospitalized.

Shifting government policies have created incentives for nursing homes to transfer the patients, which can result in fragmented care and treatment complications, according to Kaiser Health News.

The Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit publication found that one in five Medicare patients who moved from a hospital to a nursing home returned to a hospital within 30 days, often for conditions such as dehydration and infection that potentially could have been prevented. That rate is 27 percent higher than among the general Medicare population, the publication found.

The story includes a searchable list of nursing homes. In Pennsylvania, the average rate of patients who are rehospitalized is 20 percent.

Medicare tracks hospital readmissions among both hospital and nursing home patients as a metric to measure quality of treatment. It penalizes hospitals with high readmission rates. The program is going to start giving nursing homes bonuses or penalties based on rehospitalization rates this fall, according to KHN.

The change could help address an ethos among nursing homes that David Grabowski, a professor of health care policy at Harvard Medical School, summarized summarized for the publication: “When in doubt, ship them out.”

Some patient advocates told KHN they are concerned the change could encourage nursing homes to keep patients when they do need hospital care.

Wes Venteicher is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-380-5676, wventeicher@tribweb.com or via Twitter @wesventeicher.

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