The Puzzling Link Between Caregivers and Hospital Readmissions

Patients with caregivers are more likely to be readmitted to the hospital.

Huh?

That surprising and counterintuitive finding is courtesy of Dallas-based CareCycle Solutions (CCS) and the University of North Texas Health Science Center (UNTHSC).

CCS specializes in managing homebound patients with chronic conditions using telehealth and other healthcare services when needed. The 30-day hospital readmission rate of its patients is about one-third of the national average.

UNTHSC examined 19 data elements on about 7500 patient records to see if there were any specific patterns on reasons for hospital readmissions. Out popped the caregiver finding.

Wayne Bazzle, CCS chief executive officer, said the research revealed three distinctive—and compounding—reasons.

  • Caregivers are quick to return the patients to the hospital if there is any sign of deterioration. Bazzle said the usual cause is missed medication or some other easily correctable medical-management error.
  • Caregivers wait on their patients to the point that the patient rarely needs to move. “Caregivers think they are doing a good job, but they are giving the patient the easy way out. It is critically important for chronically ill people to move more,” Bazzle said.
  • Most homebound patients without caregivers have pets that give patients the motivation to avoid returning to the hospital. “The pet is a beloved friend they would do anything for. If they are living alone, they don’t know who would take care of the pet if they went back to the hospital. They work really hard to get more exercise and eat better so they can take care of the pet’s needs. It also takes the patients’ focus away from themselves. If there is a caregiver, they know the pet will be taken care of if something happens and they won’t work as hard (to recover).”

Steve Jacob is editor of D Healthcare Daily and author of the book Health Care in 2020: Where Uncertain Reform, Bad Habits, Too Few Doctors and Skyrocketing Costs Are Taking Us. He can be reached at steve.jacob@dmagazine.com.

Posted in Hospitals, News.