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'Inadequate discharge information causes elderly patients to return to hospital'

'Inadequate discharge information causes elderly patients to return to hospital'
15th February 2008

Gaps in communication regarding aftercare could be the cause of many elderly people having to be readmitted to hospital, it has emerged.

A study published in the journal, 'Quality and Safety in Healthcare', suggested that patients who were given inadequate instructions for aftercare, especially regarding medicine management, were more likely to be readmitted to hospital.

The authors carried out a retrospective case review of elderly patients (aged over 75) who had returned to hospital within four weeks of being discharged.

It was found that incomplete discharge information was common among these patients.

Approximately 62 per cent of participants were given no discharge letter, while two-thirds of the discharge documents were incomplete in describing medicinal changes.

The researchers deemed that 54 per cent of the communication gaps were "preventable".

Meanwhile, a recent report in the British Medical Journal claimed that thousand of frail elderly people are malnourished in hospitals.

The author stated that many are going hungry because they cannot eat their meals alone, while the hospital food is too unappetising for some.

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