25 percent of heart failure patients readmitted

Avoiding readmissions is part and parcel of hospital care these days, if for no other reason that health plans and CMS frown upon paying for them. In the case of heart failure, it's particularly important, since a readmission suggests that the patient is sliding into potential fatal condition.

Heart failure affects an estimated 5.7 million people in the United States, with 670,000 new cases diagnosed every year, according to the American Heart Association. However, at the moment, hospitals seem to be unable to stem the tide of heart failure readmissions among Medicare patients, if a new study is any indication. There were half a million readmissions for heart failure from 2004 to 2006, researchers found.

The study, which was published in Circulation: Heart Failure, concludes that addressing the problem will require the entire clinical team as well as patient involvement, according to Dr. Joseph S. Ross, an assistant professor of geriatrics and palliative medicine at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City.

Ross believes that incentives encouraging clinicians to work together--such as bundled payments--could force clinicians to collaborate more effectively, reducing heart failure readmission rates.

To get more information on the study:
- read this HealthDay News piece

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