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Keywords:

  • potentially;
  • preventable;
  • hospitalization;
  • nursing homes

OBJECTIVES: To describe characteristics of New York State nursing homes and identify factors associated with potentially preventable hospitalization in nursing home residents.

DESIGN: Cross-sectional survey.

SETTING: Randomly selected nursing homes in New York State.

PARTICIPANTS: One hundred forty-seven directors of nursing (DONs).

MEASUREMENTS: Data were collected using a Web-based survey completed in January 2008. Variables included specific aspects of facility environment, nurse and aide services, resource availability, perceived determinants of hospitalization, and nursing home practice. Stepwise multivariate linear regression examined the associations between perceived determinants and potentially preventable hospitalization.

RESULTS: Factors associated with potentially preventable hospitalization included presence of nursing staff trained to communicate effectively with physicians (P<.001); easy access to urgent laboratory results in less than 4 hours on weekends (P=.03); that physicians attempt to treat patients within the nursing home and admit to the hospital as a last resort (P<.001); higher reported proportion of residents enrolled in managed care plans for regular medical care (P=.04); higher perceived likelihood that illness will cause death (P=.03); perceived inadequate access by physicians to residents' and prior medical history, laboratory results, and electrocardiograms (ECGs) (P=.02), as reported by DONs.

CONCLUSION: Efficient and effective care depends on continuity of communication between nurses and physicians and adequate access to patients' medical history, laboratory results, and ECGs. The following operational strategies may help institutions reduce potentially preventable hospitalizations: ensure effective communication between nursing staff and physicians regarding patients' condition; provide physicians with easy access to stat laboratory results in less than 4 hours on weekends and adequate access to the patient's medical history, laboratory results, and ECGs; and motivate physicians to treat residents within the nursing home whenever possible.