Doctors delaying discharge due to lack of home health support

A new survey concludes that a lack of home health services may be yet another bottleneck in the struggle to cut down on needless patient days in the hospital. The report notes that just over half of doctors responding to a Massachusetts survey last fall said they'd kept patients in the hospital longer than needed because of inadequate access to home health services.

The report, which was produced by the Massachusetts Medical Society in collaboration with the Home Care Alliance of Massachusetts, concluded that doctors believe such agencies can safely reduce longer lengths of stay and their associated costs, along with emergency department utilization. This may be less the case with specialists, who were far less likely than primary care doctors to recommend patients for home healthcare.

One of the biggest problems in getting timely home care to patients is a lack of physical therapists, according to Patricia Kelleher, executive director of the Alliance. Sometimes, a patient may be ready for discharge on a Monday, but an agency can't get a physical therapist to them until Thursday or Friday. This forces doctors to choose between sending patients home with no therapy, or keeping them for a few extra days.

To learn more about the report:
- read this Health Leaders Media piece

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