Since 2012, Medicare has penalized hospitals for discharging and readmitting patients for the same condition within 30 days. According to the Des Moines Business Record, no penalties have been acquired by Broadlawns, Mercy Des Moines or Iowa Methodist regarding re-hospitalizations for six particular types of Medicare patients.

The six conditions being watched are heart attacks, heart failure, coronary artery bypass, pneumonia, chronic lung disease, and joint replacements.

Close scrutiny by Medicare is part of a movement to improve overall health of patients with complex medical needs. When being discharged from a hospital, you should expect to be transitioned to home with adequate support, be that home healthcare, out-patient therapy, a stay at a rehabilitation facility and/or appropriate medical equipment.

Home healthcare following a hospital discharge can help Medicare patients remain in their home and be as independent as possible, plus it keeps families together, reduces stress, and promotes recovery. An important part of preventing re-hospitalization is good communication between patient, primary doctor, and all specialists.

Additionally, the role of the pharmacist is key in preventing a return to the hospital. Upon discharge, consult your pharmacist for medication reconciliation. This avoids medication errors that result in a return to the hospital.