Hospitals Often Fail To Share Key Health Information On New Nursing Home Residents: Study

The findings of a new study raise concerns about the risk of complications after transfers to nursing homes, indicating hospitals often fail to provide important patient care information to the skilled nursing facilities.

Only 13% of hospital and skilled nursing facility (SNF) transitions resulted in successful patient transfers and excellent information sharing, according to a report published last week in the medical journal JAMA Network Open.

Researchers from the University of California, San Francisco, used a nationally representative survey of 471 hospital and skilled nursing facility pairs about information sharing during patient transfers.

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More than three-quarters of transfers resulted in at least one information shortcoming, according to the findings.

Only 13.5% of hospital to nursing home transfers had excellent performance on all three dimensions of information sharing. Nearly one-third of transfers were at or below the average performance measure on all dimensions.

Skilled nursing facilities reported key information was often missing from patient records, including functional, mental and behavioral status information, as well as who to contact at the hospital with follow-up questions.

The data indicates the most common types of missing information included social status, which was missing in 66% of patient transfers, and behavioral status, which was missing in 68% of patient transfers.

Receipt of hospital patient information was often delayed, frequently arriving after the patient had already been transferred. Data was sometimes delayed roughly 34% of the time and often delayed 16% of the time. This type of information can help facilities prepare for the specific needs of each patient.

In addition, nursing home facilities reported receiving data which was often difficult to use. However, having a hospital clinician on-site at the nursing home was associated with more complete, timely and usable information sharing.

“These shortcomings are likely associated with a suboptimal transition experience,” the researchers wrote. “Shared clinicians represent a potential strategy to improve information sharing but are costly. New payment models such as accountable care organizations may offer a more scalable approach but were only associated with more timely sharing.”

Patient transfers from hospitals to skilled nursing facilities require significant information sharing. The establishment of electronic medical records years ago was meant to help facilitate this type of transition. However, it seems that has not helped to the degree intended and further improvements are necessary to prevent lapses in patient care, researchers warned.

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