High hospital re-admission

    More than one in five Medicare patients in New Jersey goes back into the hospital within 30 days of leaving it.

    New Jersey has one of the nation’s highest rates of patients returning to the hospital within a month.
    (Photo: Flickr/chasing butterflies)



    More than one in five patients covered by Medicare are readmitted within 30 days. That’s according to a new study in the New England Journal of Medicine. Jim Dwyer is the chief medical officer for Virtua Health.

    Dwyer: When dealing with patients that are elderly and somewhat frail, the risk for things to fall through the cracks in terms of transition of medications, treatment recommendations is high. There’s oftentimes disconnects that occur.

    Bill Einreinhofer is the spokesman for Healthcare Quality Strategies, which is the nonprofit leading New Jersey’s efforts to improve health care. He says the problem is that patients are not good at sticking to follow up care and nobody has easy access to a patient’s medical history. His group, Virtua, and others are experimenting with arming patients in South Jersey with their own medical records.

    Einreinhofer: It summarizes what a patient’s conditions are, who the chief medical contacts are, who their emergency contacts are, and perhaps most important, the medications that they’re taking.

    Einreinhofer says preventable re-hospitalizations cost billions of dollars each year. The experimental program continues for another year. Virtua’s goal is to reduce the re-admission rate by about 15 percent.

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