Alert
Close

How Does Your Brain Score? Take the Staying Sharp Brain Health Assessment

Can Caregivers Help Reduce Hospital Readmissions?

In 2013, more than 2,000 hospitals — two-thirds of all U.S. hospitals — were penalized about $227 million for excessive readmissions by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Reducing hospital readmissions is critical for the health of patients and making the health care system more effective.

The Role of Family Caregivers

Health care experts say caregiver training and engagement is vital to improving care transitions — when patients are discharged from the hospital — and preventing costly readmissions.

Once a patient leaves the hospital, family caregivers are the front line of defense against costly hospital readmissions. Every day, these caregivers work hard to safely help their loved ones live independently at home. They:

  • Help their loved ones to bathe and dress
  • Administer multiple medications — including injections
  • Provide wound care and perform many other complicated medical or nursing tasks

Yet, most family caregivers report that they receive little or no help in understanding how to perform these important tasks.

How The CARE Act Can Help

The Caregiver Advise, Record, Enable (CARE) Act is a basic first step to engage family caregivers in the hospital setting so they may safely provide care for their loved ones at home — care that can help prevent costly hospital readmissions. The bill:

  • Allows a patient to designate a caregiver when admitted into a hospital
  • Requires the hospital to notify the family caregiver before the patient is discharged or transferred
  • Requires the hospital to provide an explanation and live instruction of the medical tasks — such as medication management, injections and wound care — that the family caregiver will be expected to perform at home

According to Elaine Ryan, AARP vice president of state advocacy and strategy: “While not all readmissions can be prevented, research shows hospitals can use effective strategies to avoid many of them. Patients and their family caregivers want and need to play their part in reducing readmissions, and the CARE Act is an important step that will help them share in this responsibility.”

As AARP continues to fight in states across the country to pass the CARE Act, Oklahoma became the first state in the nation to sign the act into law this year.

What Medicare Is Doing Now

CMS introduced the Medicare Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program in 2010 as an incentive for hospitals to reduce costly readmissions — and improve care. According to CMS, about 1 in 5 Medicare patients discharged from a hospital are readmitted within 30 days.

The national median 30-day readmission rate is:

  • 20 percent for heart attack patients
  • 25 percent for heart failure patients
  • 18 percent for pneumonia patients

The goal of the CMS program is to improve quality of care and reduce avoidable illness and mortality by encouraging hospitals to invest in ways that will:

  • Reduce complications
  • Smooth care transitions through initiatives that engage patients and families in care planning

Hospitals with excessive readmissions face financial penalties:

  • For excessive 30-day readmissions related to three conditions (heart attack, heart failure and pneumonia), Medicare payments are reduced by up to 1 percent.
  • The reduction in payment rises to 3 percent in 2015 when the program expands to include seven conditions.

Find out where CMS ranks your state when it comes to costly hospital readmissions.

While not all readmissions can be prevented, research shows hospitals can use effective strategies to avoid many of them. Patients and their family caregivers want and need to play their part in reducing readmissions, and the CARE Act is an important step that will help them share in this responsibility.

If you are a family caregiver, you’re not alone.

Topic Alerts

You can get weekly email alerts on the topics below. Just click “Follow.”

Manage Alerts

Processing

Please wait...

progress bar, please wait

Tell Us WhatYou Think

Please leave your comment below.

caregiving tools

Caregiving Locator Tool

Care Provider Tool

Find home health, assisted living, nursing home, hospice and adult day care near you. Go

I Heart Caregivers

Heart-ing family caregivers across the country.  Go

 

Search by State

 

Social Media

Discounts & Benefits

From companies that meet the high standards of service and quality set by AARP.

 

Member Benefits AT&T Wireless Cell Phone

Members save 10% on the monthly service charge of qualified AT&T wireless plans.

Member Benefit AARP Regal 2

Members pay $9.50 for Regal ePremiere Tickets purchased online.

Walgreens 1 discount membership aarp

Members earn points on select Walgreens-brand health and wellness products.

Member Benefits

Join or renew today! Members receive exclusive member benefits & affect social change.

Rewards for Good

Your Points Balance:

Learn More

Earn points for completing free online activities designed to enrich your life.

Find more ways to earn points

Redeem your points to save on merchandise, travel, and more.

Find more ways to redeem points