Monday, February 6, 2017
How the patient ends up on the wrong end of the stick
Instead, the CT was pushed until morning. A resident saw the patient at midnight and then not a single practitioner note in the EMR for nearly eighteen hours. The hospitalist eventually deferred on the scan and called for a consult, which was scheduled for the next day because of the late hour.
After a busy day of surgery, the specialist showed up at 8pm and OK'ed the patient for discharge without any further studies. But it was almost midnight, better to wait till the next day. The social worker, in meetings all morning, didn't get the paperwork out to the nursing home till mid afternoon. The nursing home accepted the patient, but only if delayed once more night due to poor staffing.
In all, the patient endured four days in the hospital without a significant diagnostic nor therapeutic intervention. He did, however, sustain a third degree decuibitious ulcer which would take weeks of wound care to heal.
I'm not sure when exactly the length of stay vs hospital readmission switch flipped. I have a sneaking suspicion that with all this talk of readmission rates, the focus and priority of the hospitals and their hospitalist programs have changed. Once again we have traded one slave master for another with untold and often unstudied consequences. Don't be too hasty to discharge, we are told, you wouldn't want the patient to bounce back.
This dance we dance with Medicare is complicated, The incentive game sounds straight forward, but often is not. While the hospital or doctor may be the recipient of all the carrots, the patient often finds themselves on the wrong end of the stick.
These are grand experiments we are forcing on our patients. Unproven and untested, we must be aware that in the name of quality, we may be undoing much good.
Posted by Jordan Grumet at 10:57 AM