Successful programs are available, don't cost much, and have a positive return on investment. But many healthcare professionals have yet to understand or address this condition.
This article first appeared in the April 2015 issue of HealthLeaders magazine.
The staff often joke around the halls of 520-licensed-bed UPMC Shadyside Hospital in Pittsburgh, "the redcoats are coming," says Fred Rubin, MD, chairman of the department of medicine.
But no one is really laughing. These 100 "redcoats"—they all wear a red smock—are welcome volunteers trained to perform a job that prevents countless adverse events among Shadyside's general medicine patients. Even more, it saves in excess of $7 million a year largely due to reduced lengths of stay and avoided complications, Rubin says.
The efforts help prevent hospital-acquired delirium, an extremely common, poorly understood, sometimes subtle, and often frightening consequence of hospitalization in people over age 70, and sometimes even younger.