Some patients are discharged from the hospital only to return shortly afterward, often through the emergency department, according to a USA TODAY report. Experts say unplanned readmissions cost billions of dollars each year, but hospitals and physicians are starting to use care models that provide better follow-up to keep people from needing a return trip.
Hospitals and clinics report seeing significantly more patients, including children and college students, with flu-like symptoms and are adding staff to deal with the influx. Health care staff also are taking precautions, such as wearing special masks and being diligent about hand-washing, to protect themselves from the H1N1 flu virus.
AHIP President Karen Ignagni also discussed the proposal in a Newsmaker session with USA TODAY. "This is a major step, and it changes everything about how the market works," she said. Read a live blog of the session.
Emergency rooms are experiencing crunches because more people are seeking health care in emergency departments instead of from primary care doctors, which can cause long wait times and more costly care. One ER director says a main problem causing ERs to back up is a lack of staffing, especially nurses, to process patients through to inpatient rooms.