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Readmission Rates Higher Among Black Patients

By: Cohen, Placitella & Roth @ Feb 13, 2017

The rates of patient readmission are one of the many ways that Medicare measures the quality of hospitals. Hospital readmission rates also matter because no one wants to have to return to the hospital for additional care after being sent home from it, and could be a sign that the hospital has failed to fulfill their responsibilities.

A new study published by the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing’s Center for Health Outcomes and Policy Research demonstrates that readmission rates are higher amongst older, black patients following a knee or hip replacement than they are amongst white patients. The study further found that the solution to the disparity may lay in nursing. You can read more about the study in Philly.com.

Rates of Readmission Higher for Black Patients

According to the study, readmission rates for black patients, following a hip or knee replacement surgery, were 40 percent higher than for white patients. After controlling for myriad factors, including the socioeconomic status of the patients, the rate of readmission for black patients was still much higher. To be sure, 7.5 percent of black patients were readmitted, compared to 5.6 percent of white patients.

What’s Going On?

The researchers sought an answer to the higher readmission rates among black patients, and while there are no definitive answers, a correlation between readmission and nurse staffing was identified.

For example, the more patients assigned to a nurse, the greater the risk of readmission. For white patients, each additional patient assigned to a nurse increased the chances of that patient being readmitted by eight percent; for black patients, this number jumped to 15 percent. When patients have more time with their nurse – because a lower nurse-to-patient ratio exists – they have more time to review important post-surgery details, such as any signs of infection and how to care for surgery sites at home. Because it is believed that black patients often have less support at home and poorer access to care, the time spent with nurses following surgery could be critical.

More Nursing Attention for Patients

Nurses need the time necessary to learn about patients’ situations at home, including whether or not there are any persons within a house who can assist a patient with post-surgery care. Further, the benefits of lower nurse-to-patient ratios are plenty, and extend well beyond the data in this study.

At the law firm of Cohen, Placitella & Roth, P.C., our experienced Philadelphia medical malpractice attorneys have worked with victims who have not received the care they deserve because of inadequate hospital staffing, and believe that investing in nursing is a necessary part of the solution. If you have suffered an injury that you believe could have been prevented but for negligent healthcare, please contact us today for your free case consultation. We are available to talk now!

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