Hospitalizations lead to more SNF stays

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Medicare beneficiaries who are hospitalized for acute-care treatment, including a stroke or hip fracture, are at an “extremely high risk” for needing long-term care in a nursing home, a new study finds.

In analyzing a 5% sample of Medicare enrollees between 1996 and 2008, University of Texas Medical Branch researchers found that 75% of the group was admitted to a long-term care facility within six months of a hospital stay.

The percent of hospitalized Medicare patients transferred on discharge jumped from 10.8% in 1996 to 16.5% in 2008. Investigators noted that risk factors such as cognitive problems added to the risk of needing hospital care.

“Hospitalization is a tipping point for older patients, often reducing their ability to live as independently as before,” said lead author James S. Goodwin, M.D. “Add the enormous systemic pressure to reduce hospital stays and a dearth of viable programs to help patients fully recover their health and independence after hospitalization, and there simply isn't a clear path to get the patient back home.”

The study was published in the Journals of Gerontology Series A: Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences.