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Improved discharge directions and communication between patients and providers could prevent more than a fourth of hospital readmissions, according to a new study published in JAMA Internal Medicine

Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, reviewed 1,000 readmissions that occurred within 30 days of discharge, and found 269 of those cases were potentially preventable. 

The most common factors for readmission were emergency room decision-making, premature discharge, and lack of communication between patients and providers about post-discharge appointments, contacts and care wishes. 

“We were also surprised by the large role which improving communication and confirmation of care plans between patients, acute care, and longitudinal care providers might provide in reducing readmissions,” lead researcher Andrew Auerbach, M.D., told Reuters.

Auerbach also stressed the importance of providers understanding patients’ care wishes in preventing readmissions, as well as developing systems that can keep patients out of the hospital but able to access aspects of hospital care in other ways.