The battle against 'post-hospital syndrome' must begin at the hospital

The physician who coined the term "post-hospital syndrome" (PHS) told U.S. News & World Report Health that the effort to fight the phenomenon must begin during the patient's original stay. 

Hospitals and healthcare institutions must take a proactive approach to fighting PHS, a window of vulnerability in the first 30 days after a hospital stay, Harlan Krumholz, M.D., said in an interview with the publication.

Patients are at a greater risk of readmission because during the hospital stay they can be exposed to secondary infections. Their regular sleep routines, diet and medication cycle are thrown off, which can lead to a number of issues when they are released. "Exposure to the stress of the hospitalization may have led to a vulnerability afterward," he said.

Last year, a team of researchers at Loyola University of Chicago's Stritch School of Medicine found that PHS affects patients undergoing ambulatory as well as elective surgery procedures. Fatigue, dehydration, stress and a lack of support after discharge can all affect a patient's likelihood of suffering with disorders related to PHS.

The key to fighting the syndrome, Krumholz, said, lies in improving the initial hospital stay and following up with community support. He suggests hospitals focus on noise-control, physical activity for patients and proper nutrition. Clinicians must take the time to give patients, their families and caregivers extensive instructions about the patients' new care regime and needs.  . 

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