A review of more than 25,000 hospital admissions in Rhode Island finds that patients with a documented diagnosis of dementia are nearly 20 percent more likely to be readmitted within 30 days than those without dementia.
“Because dementia often goes undiagnosed, or is not documented in a patient’s medical record, we believe that the current findings may underestimate readmission rates and risks in this population,” says Lori Daiello, Pharm.D, of the Alzheimer’s Disease and Memory Disorders Center at Rhode Island Hospital
Daiello says the rates of readmission are likely high because people with dementia may have difficulties comprehending and following important discharge instructions such as medication changes, decision making and self care.
Many patients with dementia have multiple medical conditions, “so it’s not surprising that this group of vulnerable older adults might be at a higher risk of being readmitted to the hospital shortly after discharge,” Daiello said, adding that because dementia often goes undiagnosed, or is not documented in a patient’s medical record, “we believe that the current findings may underestimate readmission rates and risks in this population.”
Daiello says the study results indicate that a diagnosis of dementia may be a marker of vulnerability for rapid rehospitalization and may suggest a role for targeted interventions aimed at lowering readmission rates.
“Our results suggest that a better understanding of the post discharge period for patients with dementia may inform initiatives aimed at decreasing readmissions for hospitalized elderly patients,” said Daiello.
The study was published in the Archives of Gerontology and Geriatrics.