Post-hospital syndrome fuels readmissions

As hospitals worry about curbing readmissions, they have a new threat sending older patients back to their facilities--post-hospital syndrome--according to an article published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine.  

Nearly one in five seniors bounces back to the hospital within 30 days of discharge, but with a completely different illness than the original admitting diagnosis.

The author attributes this to stress, sleep loss, pain and discomfort, malnutrition and inactivity that occurs with hospitalization.

"I started thinking about what we might be doing in the hospital that weakened people, making them at greater risk when they went home," author Harlan Krumholz of Yale School of Medicine told NBC News.

Such stressors during the hospitalization and early recovery period can worsen patients' health and render them unable to fight disease, the article noted.

To prevent post-hospital syndrome, Krumholz recommends making discharge assessments go beyond the cause of the initial hospitalization.

Hospitals also should implement interventions aimed at eliminating sleep disruptions, minimizing pain, addressing nutritional deficiencies and emphasizing physical activity, among other strategies, Krumholz added.

But according to Mark Williams, chief of the division of hospital medicine at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine, the study fails to acknowledge all the good things hospitals do for patients, noted NBC News.

For more:
- here's the study abstract
- read the NBC article