At Barnes-Jewish Hospital, Dr. Lynch said physicians from all over the Midwest referred their sickest heart patients to his facility for transplants and other major interventions. But those patients can skew his hospital’s readmissions numbers, he said: “The weaker your heart, the more advanced your emphysema, the more likely you are to be readmitted to the hospital.”
Dr. Lynch said Barnes-Jewish set up follow-up appointments for patients who didn’t have their own doctors. But about half of the patients never showed up, he said, even after the hospital made reminder phone calls and arranged for free rides. Sending nurses to see patients at home did not significantly reduce readmission rates either, he said.
“Many of us have been working on this for other reasons than a penalty for many years, and we’ve found it’s very hard to move,” Dr. Lynch said. He said the penalties were unfair to hospitals with the double burden of caring for very sick and very poor patients.
“For us, it’s not a readmissions penalty,” he said. “It’s a mission penalty.”
Read the full New York Times piece here.