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Patient re-admittance could cause hospitals to be fined

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. —   As of Monday, hospitals nationwide will face fines from Medicare for patients readmitted for complications within 30 days of their original discharge.

The goal is to reduce tax payer costs for re-admissions that could be prevented and help patients get better care at home.

Medicare says anywhere from 12% to 20% of patients are re-admitted after the first 30 days, many of those from complications that could have been prevented.

Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center and Forsyth Medical Center are the first in the state to partner up and receive federal funds for programs aimed at helping patients immediately following discharge.

“It’s just not about getting these patients out of hospital — the emphasis now — is how we keep them out, make them more productive and provide them a healthier and more productive life,” said Dr. David Smull of Forsyth Medical Center.

Locally, both medical centers provide in-home programs and navigators — nurses who follow the patients through their procedures.  The nurses also keep in contact after discharge to make sure patients understand medications, complications, side effects and other things that without proper attention could lead to re-admittance.

Forsyth Medical Center heart failure patient Joyce Williams says it helped her.

“I think I would have been re-admitted cause I would have made some same choices I made to put me in that problem in the first place,” said Williams.

During the first year hospitals will be monitored on heart failure, heart attack and pneumonia patients.

Medicare studies estimate about 2200 hospitals serving Medicare patients could face fines of more than $125,000 per institution in the first year, if patient re-admittance rates don’t improve.

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