Direct hospital discharge of older patients to a skilled nursing facility puts them at "extremely high risk" of requiring long-term nursing home care, according to a study in the Journal of Gerontology. "Hospitalization is a tipping point for older patients, often reducing their ability to live as independently as before," lead author Dr. James Goodwin said. The study was based on about 762,000 Medicare recipients admitted to nursing homes between 1996 and 2008.

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