Why are hospitalisations too long? A simple checklist for identifying the main social barriers to hospital discharge from a nephrology ward.
BMC Nephrol. 2018 Sep 12;19(1):227
Authors: Coindre JP, Crochette R, Breuer C, Piccoli GB
The present increase in life span has been accompanied by an even higher increase in the burden of comorbidity. The challenges to healthcare systems are enormous and performance measures have been introduced to make the provision of healthcare more cost-efficient. Performance of hospitalisation is basically defined by the relationship between hospital stay, use of hospital resources, and main diagnosis/diagnoses and complication(s), adjusted for case mix. These factors, combined in different indexes, are compared with the performance of similar hospitals in the same and other countries. The reasons why an approach like this is being employed are clear.Cutting costs cannot be the only criteria, in particular in elderly, high-comorbidity patients: in this population, although social issues are important determinants of hospital stay, they are rarely taken into account or quantified in evaluations. Quantifying the impact of the "social barriers" to care can serve as a marker of the overall quality of treatment a network provides, and point to specific out-of-hospital needs, necessary to improve in-hospital performance. We therefore propose a simple, empiric medico-social checklist that can be used in nephrology wards to assess the presence of social barriers to hospital discharge and quantify their weight.Using the checklist should allow: identifying patients with social frailty that could complicate hospitalisation and/or discharge; evaluating the social needs of patient and entourage at the beginning of hospitalisation, adopting timely procedures, within the partnership with out-of-hospital teams; facilitating prioritization of interventions by social workers.The following ten items were empirically identified: reason for hospitalisation; hospitalisation in relation to the caregiver's problems; recurrent unplanned hospitalisations or early re-hospitalisation; social/family isolation; presence of a dependent relative in the patient's household; lack of housing or unsuitable housing/accommodation; loss of autonomy; lack of economic resources; lack of a safe environment; evidence of physical or psychological abuse.The simple tool here described needs validation; the present proposal is aimed at raising attention on the importance of non-medical issues in medical organisation in our specialty, and is open to discussion, to allow its refinement.
PMID: 30208851 [PubMed - in process]