Hospitals failing at discharge info: report

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Hospital patients often don't receive quality information on skilled nursing facilities prior to their discharge and may choose a facility based on location, a new study shows.

Researchers led by RTI International in Massachusetts interviewed nearly 100 nursing home residents, along with a group of almost 140 staff members from hospitals and nursing facilities, to determine how patients picked their facility.

Their findings, published in an August issue of Health Affairs, showed that the majority of patients surveyed received a list of nearby skilled nursing facilities prior to discharge. Staff reported they thought regulations forbade sharing quality data.

Four hospital patients said they received information on the quality of skilled nursing facilities, or where to find the publicly available information. Many hospitals opt to take an “extreme view” of those laws, researchers said.

RTI noted that proposed changes to hospitals' discharge procedures, as well as more flexibility in interpreting patient choice regulations, could remedy the lack of quality information given to patients and allow hospitals to refer patients to more high-quality nursing homes.