As many as one in five older Medicare patients returns to the hospital after an observation stay, or short-term outpatient stay, a Yale-led study found. This high rate of revisit to the hospital points to a hidden vulnerability among these patients, and suggests changes in care might be needed, the researchers said.
The study was published online June 20 in The BMJ.
Observation stays are a relatively new category of hospital care. These stays typically follow an emergency department (ED) visit and last less than 24 hours before patients are discharged. The most common conditions treated during an observation stay are cardiovascular, such as chest pain or arrhythmia.
While observation stays have increased in recent years as alternatives to inpatient stays, little research has been done to assess their associated outcomes for patients, said first author Kumar Dharmarajan, MD, assistant professor of medicine.