Is Observation Status Substituting for Hospital Readmission?

Since October 2012, the Medicare program has penalized hospitals when too many patients in traditional Medicare are re-hospitalized within a month of discharge. This policy appears to be having unintended consequences for patients in Medicare and in the commercial market. Hospitals with readmission rates above the national average now receive lower payments across-the-board from Medicare; the higher the rate of “excess” readmissions, the greater the penalty. The fines are intended to push hospitals to provide better care for their patients …

New Medicare Program May Be Reducing Hospital Readmissions for Joint Replacement Patients

Lately you may have noticed a growing number of commercials filled with people happily touting the benefits of their new joints. Experts expect such procedures to become increasingly popular as the active boomer population continues to age. However, the commercials typically gloss over the fact that joint replacements do not come without risk: Implant-related complications are common and can lead to unplanned hospital readmissions. While many hospital readmissions are unavoidable, experts believe hospitals can reduce readmissions for certain conditions. Accordingly, …

Pop’s Critical Role as Caregiver During Mom’s Brain Surgery

This weekend we all had the opportunity to celebrate our fathers. As I remembered my Pop — a funny, hardworking, unselfish man — I thought about his devotion to my mom, especially during their later lives when he was her primary caregiver. He shouldered huge responsibilities that I think weighed heavily on his mind. I remembered the time, several days before Mom had brain surgery, Pop opened his wallet and handed me a small piece of paper. “It’s the anesthesia …

The CARE Act: A Commonsense Solution to Help Family Caregivers

Alice from Texas cared for her husband, Cort, after he suffered a severe stroke.  She recently shared her story on I Heart Caregivers, writing, “After a week in intensive care, three weeks in a rehab facility and a month in a nursing home, I brought my husband home to begin his care. He came home with a severe wound on his back. I learned wound care, changing catheters, all the duties of a home healthcare nurse. Since then, he has …

Caring for Our Spouses

BREAKING UPDATE 5/15: Oklahoma becomes the first state in the nation to enact the CARE Act!  SB 1536, also known as the CARE Act, has been signed by Governor Mary Fallin and will take effect November 1, 2014. The bill will help the 600,000 family caregivers in Oklahoma when their loved ones go into the hospital and as they transition home.     Meet the Mitchems and the Shapards: two Oklahoma families who would benefit greatly from the Caregiver Advise, Record, …

Just Listen: Teaching Doctors to Pay Attention

“There is a bias in medicine against talking to people,” a frustrated health care provider tells the Washington Post. Or, as a recent story in the Wall Street Journal put it, “Doctors are rude. Doctors don’t listen. Doctors have no time. Doctors don’t explain things in terms patients can understand.” And then there’s the poignant explanation that a 78-year-old Medicare patient tells the Post: “In a doctor’s office, a lot of people, especially older people, feel pressure to get out …