Patient Bounceback

The Bounceback Problem, Like a Revolving Door. Why patients can’t stay out of hospitals?

The Bounceback Problem

In medical jargon, a “bounceback” is a patient who returns to the hospital soon after being discharged. Reasons for bouncing back include problems like uncontrolled pain after a procedure, a surgical infection, or unexpected deterioration of the original reason for admission.

The article discusses the issue of hospital bouncebacks, which refer to patients returning to the hospital soon after being discharged due to complications or unexpected deterioration. High bounceback rates are considered a reflection of poor medical care and are costly, amounting to $17.4 billion per year for Medicare patients. To combat this issue, policymakers have required hospitals to publicly report their 30-day readmission rates for specific conditions and will penalize hospitals with higher rates starting in 2013. However, high readmission rates are not always a result of poor care, and preventing bouncebacks is challenging. Hospitals that care for the poorest patients may be unfairly penalized, and hospitals may attempt to game the system by enacting policies that are not good for patient care. Despite these challenges, experts are pushing ahead to reduce readmissions through measures such as improved discharge planning and better access to follow-up appointments, although there is a lack of data supporting these approaches as the most effective. Some measures that excite policymakers include improved discharge planning and better access to clinic doctors for follow-up. However, there is a lack of data supporting these two measures as the most promising bounceback-busters. Ultimately, reducing bouncebacks will require a concerted effort from hospitals, policymakers, and healthcare professionals.