News Updates – Barriers to Patient Care and Throughput

Published March 29, 2013


Our bi-weekly news updates are designed to keep you up to date with current developments relating to the Acute Care Continuum. Feel free to share your perspective on these stories or link to articles that you have found relevant to today’s healthcare environment.
SNFs Failing to Meet CMS Guidelines

A randomly selected sample of skilled nursing facilities (SNFs) are not meeting the requirements to receive Medicare funding, according to the Office of Inspector General (OIG). The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) “mandates that skilled nursing facilities, or nursing homes, create care and discharge plans for every patient” in an effort to improve quality. OIG estimates that CMS paid nearly $4.5 billion last year to SNFs that were not meeting the requirements.

Patients who lack clear instructions and a care transition plan can have difficulty recovering post-discharge and have a higher risk of being readmitted to the hospital. CMS has long viewed SNFs as one solution towards reducing readmission rates.

The Cost of ER Cost-Cutting

The New York Times recently highlighted problems associated with cutting reimbursements to emergency departments that care for patients with less serious injuries. Using the case study of a patient who was misdiagnosed and went on to suffer an aneurysm, the article shows that cutting payments for less serious diagnoses can have an adverse effect on overall emergency patient care. However, Washington State has seen success in reducing unnecessary ED visits by educating patients on where to access care for less serious conditions.

Nurse Understaffing Threatens Patient Safety

HealthLeaders Media has released their “Nursing Staffing Strategy” survey findings which linked understaffing and nursing fatigue to patient safety. The online survey was completed by 120 nurse professionals, with a majority who reported having to work 12-hour shifts with an alarming rate of frequency. Additionally, nearly a third of respondents admitted that they have made an error at work due to fatigue. Although many hospitals have policies in place to combat fatigue, 65 percent of the nurses surveyed said these policies are frequently ignored by administrators.

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