Q My husband had knee surgery, but about 10 days later he had to go back to the hospital to treat an infection. Is this common?
A Sadly, yes. Hospital readmissions are a serious problem for patients and their caregivers. Readmissions lengthen recovery time, rack up co-pays, and keep you from resuming your life. Readmissions are also a major concern for Medicare, and other insurance payers. Medicare Part A pays 100% of acute in-patient hospitalization, so they really want you to avoid going back in.
Under the Affordable Care Act, Medicare (The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services) told U.S. hospitals to reduce their readmissions or face cuts to their reimbursement. In 2015, over 2,600 U.S. hospitals were penalized. Hospitals are doing what they can to reduce readmissions, like making sure patients have adequate follow-up at home and understanding their medications.
Whether you have a planned hospital stay or an emergency, it is essential that you
understand the role you play in avoiding a hospital readmission
PLAN AHEAD: Before you go into the hospital, plan for your return. If you have stairs at home, can you sleep downstairs for a few days? Stock the pantry and bathroom. Clear clutter. Let neighbors and friends know you will be home recuperating. Community and home support is a major factor in re-hospitalization.
ASK QUESTIONS: Patients have a right and an obligation to understand and participate
in their care. Ask as many questions as you like. Bring a notebook to keep track of questions and answers
KNOW YOUR RIGHTS: You may appeal a hospital discharge if you think it’s too soon. If you do not feel safe going home, you probably aren’t. You might go home with a family member for a few days, or stay an extra day in the hospital. This is also your right.
Use your mindfulness when talking to the hospital staff about discharge. Listen attentively to the instructions given. Take time to process the information and formulate questions. Take a moment to visualize yourself recuperating at home. That will help you foresee potential problems and create solutions before you get there.
“More U.S. Hospitals To Receive 30-day Readmission Penalties” by Sabriya Rice, October 2, 2014 available at:
“Care About Your Care” by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, available at: