Seniors are more likely to be rehospitalized within 30 days of discharge if they have dementia, and the risk increases if they are taking an antipsychotic medication, according to recently published research. The study also found that discharge to a skilled nursing facility reduced hospital readmission risk when compared to discharge with home health services.
Investigators in Rhode Island analyzed about 26,000 hospitalizations that occurred during a one-year period. Medicare beneficiaries with a dementia diagnosis were nearly 20% more likely to be back in the hospital within a month than those without dementia, the researchers found.
Patients taking an antipsychotic medication in the six months before or after the initial hospital stay had a higher probability of readmission.
The authors described this as a “notable” finding, and they surmised that antipsychotic use could indicate “undocumented factors” such as behavioral symptoms, which would explain heightened hospitalization risk.
Their findings appeared shortly after the federal government announced that long-term care providers met a national goal of reducing antipsychotic prescribing for dementia care by 15%.
Findings from the Rhode Island study appear in the Archives of Gerontology and Geriatrics.