Hospital stay followed by Long-Term Institutionalization a Risk for Medicare Patients

A national study conducted by researchers at the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) in Galveston and published online in the Journals of Gerontology Series A: Biological Sciences and Medical Science,  has revealed that being hospitalized for a severe event, such as a stroke or hip fracture, may lead to long-term institutionalization in a nursing home. The researchers found that direct discharge to a capable nursing facility, put patients at “extremely high risk” of needing long-term nursing home care.
These results suggest that programs intended at serving older patients recover successfully at home in place of an institutional setting could greatly better their health outcomes and reduce health care costs.

Medicare Insurance Plan pays 100 percent for 20 days at a skilled nursing facility for patients who have just been discharged from the hospital but still need extra care.
The researchers measured a five percent sample of Medicare Insurance enrollees aged 66 or older between 1996 and 2008 who were admitted to nursing homes. Of that population, 75 percent were admitted to a nursing home for long-term care within six months of a hospital stay.

The researchers hold that the period studied paralleled a time of expansion in the use of skilled nursing facilities, which may have been due to Medicare’s acceptance of a future payment system that encouraged hospitals to lessen the length of stays.

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