Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Impact of Health Literacy on Readmission

A recent article in the Washington Post, "Improving Health Literacy Will Decrease Hospital Readmissions, Costs," details the effect that patients' knowledge of health information can have on hospital readmissions.  In fact, the article states that "under health reform, measures to improve patients' ability to obtain, understand and use health information are expected to decrease costly hospital readmissions and complications."

An INQRI team found that nurses are key to the educational efforts that happen at discharge and help prevent readmissions.  Researchers at Marquette University have been studying what hospital-based nurses do to influence outcomes that occur after discharge from a hospital. Specifically, they looked at identifying the contributions that nursing staff make to the quality of discharge teaching on patient outcomes, readiness and readmission rates of patients who are discharged home. They have found that when units had more RN hours per patient day, less overtime hours and fewer vacancies, the discharge teaching was of higher quality, patients reported greater readiness for hospital discharge, and post-discharge utilization of readmission and emergency room visits was lower.  The team published some of their study results in the May 2010 edition of Medical Care.

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