Hospital checklists cut readmissions, Medicare costs

In another win for in-hospital checklists, new research finds that a simple, one-page checklist can keep heart patients out of the hospital, as well as save Medicare billions of dollars, according to a presentation Saturday at the American College of Cardiology's (ACC) annual scientific session.

After using the 27-question checklist before discharge, 30-day readmissions significantly dropped from 20 percent to 2 percent. The checklist focuses on medications and dosage modification, counseling and monitoring intervention, and follow-up instructions, according to information from the ACC.

"In addition to lowering 30-day and six-month readmissions and the associated costs, we also showed that more patients in the checklist group were likely to be on correct medications and had appropriate drug doses than patients in the control group," study lead investigator Abhijeet Basoor of St. Joseph Mercy Oakland Hospital in Pontiac, Mich., said in a statement.

According to the researchers, the checklist takes only a few minutes to administer and has no costs or side effects, reported USA Today.

Meanwhile, another ACC study of public hospitals in Brazil found that checklists and color-coded signals significantly boosted physician adherence to evidence-based treatment for patients with acute coronary syndrome, MedPage Today reported.

"[I]f patient care can be improved when adoption rates are more in the 'middle range,' then our results are relevant to rest of world and to the U.S. for diseases other than ACS, for which evidence-based medicine uptake is much less common," study authors wrote in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

To learn more:
- read the ACC press release
- here's the USA Today article
- read the MedPageToday article