Can Patients Survive A Trip to Our Healthcare Facility? “Post Hospital Syndrome”

In the days of Social Media, Facebook, TikTok, LinkedIn and other internet platforms, there are many communities where the professional’s “dirty laundry” is aired.  We are overworked, underpaid, abused, and changed by the Covid Pandemic.  Yet, there are many professionals really sacrificing and caring about their patients.  I am not sure that we fully understand the impact that we have on our patients lives and family. Particularly, as our patients get older.

Post hospital syndrome is all too familiar on our current admission field. Nearly one fifth of Medicare patients discharged from the hospital (approximately 2.6 million seniors) develop an acute medical problem within 30 days that requires readmission. Medicare tracks the readmissions and hospitals are penalized in reimbursement if the percentage is high.  Hospitals are evaluated on the number of readmissions regarding quality of care.

You can become a victim without having been admitted. What may begin as a small minor issue that lands a patient in the emergency room can become the basis for admission in a few days or a week. Our bodies lose the ability to compensate for even a small upset in the normal functioning as we age. Think of it as a stack of cereal boxes – if one is removed the whole pyramid comes tumbling down.

The statistics tell us that 1 in 5 ER patients come back for admission to the hospital. Most of these admissions are attributed to the stress of the hospitalization or ER visit rather than the nature of the treatment or illness. It is estimated that there is a 60 to 90 day period of increased vulnerability of hospital re-admission after the first visit.

Think about what we require of our patients. We remove control over their ability to wear their own clothes, to get out of bed, to sleep when they desire, to eat what they want. They must be on our schedule, not on their schedule.   MRI in the middle of the night when the scanner is open?  Blood draws at 3 AM?  Vital signs at 5:30 AM before shift change? Some scientists relate it to a case of PTSD after and during hospitalization.  Collateral damage to the patient can be the result even in a case of successful treatment.

One physician stated, “We should never wake a sleeping patient unless there is a compelling reason, and that reason should not be our own convenience.”  What a revolutionary statement. How do we get our work done if the patient is in the driver’s seat?  How do we fix the understaffed, revenue oriented culture to do better for our patients?

What will happen to you if you become the patient?  You might become frustrated but remember you are still in control at the end of the day. Play an active role in your care and be prepared for setbacks. Do not be silent and speak up and help the caretakers if you can. If it is a family member, keep close tabs on the progress and do not be afraid to ask questions to understand the care plan.

As the professional who is giving care to patients, there are many ways we can help the patients adjust with a proper explanation for what is happening to them. We must take the time. Even if we think we do not have it. Help your patient survive their healthcare experience. It literally could be the difference.


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