Use a Checklist to Prevent Hospital Readmittance

Lisa Nelson, RD, LN Health Pro
  • Do you go to your doctor’s appointment with a checklist? Creating a checklist is an easy way to go prepared and ensure you go home with what you need to know.


    A small study presented at the annual American College of Cardiology meeting, was conducted on patients admitted to the hospital for heart problems. Half the patients went through a 27 steps checklist prior to discharge, while the other half received standard discharge instructions.


    So in this study, this was a checklist DOCTORS used to ensure they covered everything prior to discharging a patient. The checklist served as a reminder to doctors and prompts them to be sure and cover things like medication recommendations, diet instructions, warning signs to watch for, referrals to other health professionals if applicable, and so on.

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    The study found those who were discharged using the checklist were more likely to take their medications as prescribed. For patients discharged with doctors utilizing the 27 step checklist, only 2% were readmitted to the hospital within one month. For the other patients that were discharged without the checklist, 20% found themselves readmitted to the hospital within a month.


    Did you know that about 25% of Medicare patients dealing with heart failure are readmitted to the hospital within one month of receiving treatment? According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, this costs the government $12 billion each year. Research has shown 50% of these readmissions could be eliminated with better patient care and/or education. Hence this small study looking at the impact a doctor checklist can have.


    Now, there is practically no cost and a relatively small time commitment to have doctors use a checklist at time of discharge. However, creating a practical checklist and making it available is still a big step away from actual implementation in the hospital setting. Plus, this study hasn’t been peer reviewed & published to validate the results and ensure they are solid.


    Which is why I ask you – do you use a checklist when visiting your doctor? There is no bigger advocate for your health than you. If you want optimal care you must be proactive. Go to the doctor prepared. Write down your questions. If necessary, consider taking someone with you that will ensure you understand and get all your questions answered. Don’t leave confused!


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Published On: December 18, 2012