Doctors are dropping the ball during hospital to nursing home transfers, survey shows

Share this article:
Strong professional relationships could reduce unnecessary hospitalizations from nursing homes, stud
Strong professional relationships could reduce unnecessary hospitalizations from nursing homes, stud

Poor communication between physicians is the No. 1 issue hurting patient transitions between hospitals and nursing homes, according to a recent survey of long-term care professionals.

Researchers with the University of Missouri Sinclair School of Nursing devised a survey to gauge problems with care transitions. They received responses from care teams at 178 nursing homes in Missouri. The teams included a variety of workers, including nurses, physicians, Minimum Data Set coordinators and administrators.

The most common problem identified was “no communication between hospital physician and accepting physician,” the researchers found. The respondents also reported issues with written communications from hospital physicians, particularly with medication orders. Many said that “unclear” orders are a problem and trying to “decipher” or “figure out” orders is challenging. About one-third of these respondents said they spend one to two hours making calls to clarify orders, and 13% spend two to three hours.

“It is challenging for a nursing home to call back to a discharging hospital and get orders clarified; the physician who initiated the order may be gone, as is the nurse who had knowledge of the resident,” the researchers wrote.

Generally problematic communications with hospitals are compounded because patients often transition late in the day or on Friday afternoons, according to the respondents.

About half of the respondents said having a single hospital contact with thorough knowledge of the incoming resident would improve communications, the investigators reported. Social workers were singled out as good candidates for this role. 

The findings appear in the Journal of Nursing Care Quality.

Share this article:

More in News

Hospitals in the Midwest refer patients to the broadest networks of skilled nursing facilities, study finds

Hospitals in the Midwest refer patients to the ...

Midwestern hospitals spread referrals to the greatest variety of skilled nursing facilities and tap their favorite SNFs least often, according to a recently published analysis of nationwide referral patterns.

Bill would affect pay, scheduling for some nursing home housekeeping staff

Nursing homes could face more stringent scheduling requirements for housekeeping workers and might be on the hook to compensate them for last-minute shift changes under a bill proposed in both houses of Congress.

Joint Commission adds memory care accreditation

New memory care accreditation for nursing homes encourages staff to use a flexible, problem-solving approach to care for those with dementia, according to Joint Commission guidelines.