In their most recent piece at Slate, emergency physicians Zachary F. Meisel and Jesse M. Pines tackle the issue of bouncebacks — that is, the re-admission of recently-discharged hospitalized patients. They bring up good some good points, and point out that until recently hospitals really didn’t have any incentive to reduce bouncebacks:
…hospitals have never had a compelling reason to try to prevent bouncebacks. Hospitals are typically paid a flat sum for each inpatient stay — shorter stays equal higher profits. When patients bounce back, hospitals can charge the insurance company twice for the same patient with the same problem. Many hospitals also view bouncebacks as out of their control: If a patient boomerangs back because she doesn’t follow doctor’s orders, it’s not the hospital’s fault.
With health reform, however, things are changing. In an effort to reduce bouncebacks, hospitals are paid less for re-admissions, and they must publish their bounceback rates. Read more »
*This blog post was originally published at KevinMD.com*