Nursing home, hospital admissions for Parkinson's patients on the rise

The number of patients with Parkinson's disease who need long-term skilled nursing care upon hospital discharge is increasing at a “troubling” rate, according to new research out of Ireland.

Researchers examined hospital discharges of Parkinson's patients between 2009 and 2012 to determine why they were admitted, and what setting they were discharged to. The majority of patients included in the study were admitted due to acute lower respiratory infection, urinary system disorders, pneumonia and femur fractures.

Over that time period, researchers also noted a “steady rise” in hospital admissions among Parkinson's patients over age 65, according to a release published on Tuesday. The in-hospital mortality rate for those patients was 8%, higher than the rate of patients the same age without Parkinson's disease.

But even “more troubling” than the increase in hospitalizations was the “stark increase” in Parkinson's patients requiring long-term nursing home care upon hospital discharge, researchers noted. Twenty-seven percent of patients over age 65 were discharged to a nursing home following their hospital stay, compared to 12% that were admitted from a skilled nursing facility.

The research team, from the School of Public Health, Physiotherapy and Sports Science at University College Dublin, say their findings should be used to create targeted interventions that help prevent the conditions that most often cause hospital admissions in order to reduce inpatient stays and keep patients with Parkinson's in their own communities.

“Currently care delivered is disjointed and it is this fragmented approach that allows individuals to become seriously ill and require hospital admission,” said study co-author Catherine Blake, Ph.D. “Integrated care pathways for community-dwelling adults with chronic neurological diseases, not just [Parkinson's disease], should form the bedrock for health and wellness in this population going forward.”

The study's findings appear in the Journal of Parkinson's Disease.