'Post-hospital syndrome' ups readmission risk for outpatient elective surgery patients

Patients who have been hospitalized within the last 90 days have a special vulnerability in the healthcare setting to "post-hospital syndrome (PHS)," according to a study presented this week at the annual meeting of the Western Surgical Association.

PHS is an acquired condition caused by the multiplicity of stressors on inpatients. The lack of sleep and appetite, as well as dehydration and anxiousness, can leave their bodies vulnerable for long periods of time.

Researchers, led by Paul Kuo, M.D., of Loyola University of Chicago's Stritch School of Medicine, used data from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and analyzed the medical records of 57,988 California patients who underwent hernia repair in 2011, a number that included 1,332 patients who had PHS.

The study found 7.6 percent of PHS patients were readmitted within 30 days of elective outpatient hernia surgery, compared to only 1.6 percent of non-PHS patients. Similarly, 8.3 percent of patients with PHS were admitted to the emergency room within 30 days of the same procedure, compared to only 4.3 percent of non-PHS patients, according to the study announcement.

"Surgeons must consider all recent inpatient admissions when risk-stratifying patients for ambulatory, elective surgery," the announcement states.

PHS was first identified by Yale University School of Medicine's Harlan Krumholz, M.D., in a 2013 report published by the New England Journal of Medicine, FierceHealthcare previously reported. "I started thinking about what we might be doing in the hospital that weakened people, making them at greater risk when they went home," Krumholz told NBC News when his paper was published.

One way that healthcare institutions can combat PHS is to improve discharge procedures for patients leaving the hospital. A 2013 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that patients are often unclear about their conditions and discharge instructions.

To learn more.
- here's the study announcement