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Toxic Hospital Practices May Fuel Readmissions

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media, October 3, 2013

Quit Playing the Blame Game
But there's so much more we can do, Krumholz says. First, physicians and other members of a patient's whole caregiver team, inpatient and outpatient, need to stop blaming the patient for going home and forgetting what they were told to do. It might not be their fault.

"In my experience, as a patient, I don't think of this as an inpatient episode of care and an outpatient episode. I am suffering from an illness and I am going home. But I haven't finished one thing and started another; I'm dealing with the same thing.

"And I wonder why my doctors can't talk with each other. Why are people talking with me like they're educating me in the hospital instead of realizing that I'm cognitively impaired? I can't hear a word you're saying. I see your mouth moving but I don't understand a word you're saying."

"It's up to us to deal with this rather than just complain that the patients never listen."

What Pandharipande and Krumholz are opening us to is a whole new field of research and measurement. It will require a serious evaluation of remedies to see the extent to which the "hospitalization toxic" is affecting their patients, and how much of that can be prevented.

Then maybe we can all get a good night's sleep.


Cheryl Clark is senior quality editor and California correspondent for HealthLeaders Media. She is a member of the Association of Health Care Journalists.
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2 comments on "Toxic Hospital Practices May Fuel Readmissions"


Nadina Cole-Potter (10/7/2013 at 3:41 PM)
I saw this very thing when my brother was hospitalized in the ICU and Surgical ICU for over 10 weeks. Ultimately, he died after having multiple organs attacked by several different bacteria, one of them being MRSA. Here is the big picture issue: Not only is whatever acute illness that brings the patient to the hospital trauma (not just stres, but trauma), but every intervention, regardless of the outcome is trauma to the body. The article is correct about the compounding negative effects of all the pokes, sticks, medications, surgeries, IV's, tracheotomies, feeding tubes, ventilators, etc that seriously ill patients endure but the seriously specious effects of giving powerful anti-psychotic medications to patients with no history of psychosis. We saw a rational, intelligent, articulate, peaceful 68 y.o. man become characterized by medical staff as out of control and needing not only psychoactive medication but 4-point restraints. Under those circumstances, who wouldn't give up mentally and prefer to die?

Joy Coletti (10/3/2013 at 6:05 PM)
Being hospitalized is a stressful experience, especially if it involves surgery. High stress levels contribute to congnitive impairment, not to mention the impact stress has on the immune system. Anything hospitals can do to reduce a patient's stress levels will promote healing and postive outcomes.