Patients May Suffer From ‘Post Hospital Syndrome’

Sadly, this is an occurrence we see often when elderly patients are hospitalized, being re-hospitalized with a new issue not long after they have been discharged. There are a range of ideas as to what causes this, the main culprit likely being that the original hospitalization itself has “impaired” the patient, so to speak. Meaning, having a period of interrupted sleep, taking heavy pain medications or long periods of bed rest can leave someone in a generally weakened state, making them more susceptible to other illnesses and accidents. Thanks for visiting Advocare of South Florida. Enjoy reading.

Patients May Suffer From ‘Post Hospital’ Syndrome

For some elderly patients, a hospital stay may actually cause new health problems, making them sick enough to be readmitted within days or weeks of discharge, new research shows.

Nearly one in five hospitalized Medicare patients return to the hospital within 30 days.

Yet most of these patients return not because their previous illness has flared up, a new study suggests, but because they have an entirely new problem that, in many cases, was caused by the trauma of being hospitalized.

Patients initially hospitalized for pneumonia, for example, may become so weakened after a hospital stay that they fall and fracture a bone, says cardiologist Harlan Krumholz, a professor at Yale School of Medicine, who has written two new papers on the subject.

“They come into the hospital with one thing, but they leave with another,” says Krumholz, whose study of Medicare patients appears in today’s Journal of the American Medical Association. “Maybe what is going on is that people, through the hospitalization, are acquiring a new condition, something that makes them susceptible to a whole range of problems.”

Among readmitted patients, 90% of those initially diagnosed with a heart attack came back with a different problem. So did 65% of the heart failure patients and 78% of the pneumonia patients, according to the study of more than 3 million hospitalizations, based on Medicare records.

Krumholz calls the phenomenon “post-hospital syndrome,” a temporary period of increased vulnerability to all sorts of risks, from falls to heart attacks.

Many researchers are struggling to reduce medical errors and hospital-acquired infections, both of which can jeopardize patients’ lives.

In this case, however, the problem is not poor hospital care or medical mistakes, but the routine difficulties of being a patient, says Krumholz. He also described post-hospital syndrome in a New England Journal of Medicine paper earlier this month.

For example, patients often don’t sleep well in noisy, brightly lit hospital units. Nurses may interrupt their sleep to check vital signs or administer medication. Patients may not get enough to eat, especially if doctors order them to fast before procedures.

Patients often take sedating pain killers or others medications that can leave them confused, or even delirious, especially in the unfamiliar surroundings of a hospital. Lastly, extended bed rest can weaken patients’ muscles and bones, Krumholz says.

“When you go through what most people go through in a hospitalization, you are impaired,” he says. Even “if you took a healthy person through this, they would still be in a period of susceptibility” to health problems.

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