REDUCING HOSPITAL READMISSIONS. This article describes efforts to reduce readmissions to hospitals of patients with heart failure. It is estimated that the government spends $12 billion a year on “potentially preventable” readmissions. Comparative studies of hospital readmissions are now being conducted. In July, Medicare published 30-day readmission rates for heart attack, pneumonia and heart failure for every hospital in the country. The article describes the successful efforts of the Berkshire Medical Center to reduce the 30-day readmission rate from 23% to 18.6% by extensive monitoring of patients after release. A recent study showed that in general about half of Medicare patients readmitted in 30 days had not seen a doctor since their release. Berkshire staff now book appointments and make sure they happen. Berkshire now has a telephone system to monitor patients’ weight and other vital signs after release. Visiting nurses make house calls. Berkshire’s chief of medicine says that “This is as complicated as it gets in health care.”

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