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Seniors have too many post-surgery emergency department visits, study finds

September 13, 2013
by Sandra Hoban, Managing Editor
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Based on an analysis of Medicare data, a University of Michigan (UM) Medical School research team found that of the nearly 2.4 million older adults who had at least one of six common operations within a three-year period, more than 4 percent had two or more visits to the emergency department (ED) within 30 days of their surgical procedures.

The study, published in the September issue of Health Affairs, notes that post-surgical ED visits are also a path to hospital readmission. To avoid Medicare rate reductions levied against hospitals with high readmission rates, the study suggests that healthcare teams focus on supports that will keep post-surgical patients from emergency episodes.

Six of the most common surgeries for seniors are angioplasty, coronary artery bypass, hip fracture repair, abdominal aortic aneurysm repair and colectomy. The study notes that they presented at the ED experiencing cardiovascular and respiratory problems, surgical site/incision infections and abdominal or gastrointestinal difficulties.

“An emergency visit by a surgical patient is a signifier of a problem in the transition from hospital to the outpatient setting,” Keith Kocher, MD, a UM emergency physician and lead author of the study, said in a release.

The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health.

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