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Study: Hospital Patients Receive No Info about Nursing Homes

A new study by RTI International shows that many hospitals fail to provide their patient with quality information about skilled nursing facilities, which causes many patients to select a facility simply based on location. The study included information from about 100 nursing home residents and almost 140 staff members of hospitals and nursing facilities. The goal of the study was to determine how patients selected a nursing home following a hospital stay, or what factors influenced their decisions. The researchers’ findings were published in a recent issue of Health Affairs.

In most cases, patients simply received a list of local skilled nursing facilities, with no information about the quality of the facilities. Some staff members thought that giving information about quality and conditions of a particular nursing facility violated patient choice regulations. However, the researchers concluded that providing patients with information about the quality of nursing homes, or at least where to find such information, did not breach these regulations. Only four of the 100 nursing home residents reported receiving such information as hospital patients.

In order to remedy the situation, the researchers recommended making changes to hospital discharge procedures and interpreting patient choice regulations in a more flexible manner. Hospitals can and should direct patients to high-quality nursing homes upon discharge, or at least make patients aware of resources to get that information.

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