New Quality Target: Depression


Hospitalists might be able to help reduce their institutions' readmission rate by adding in targeted screenings for depressive symptoms, according to the author of a study in this month’s Journal of Hospital Medicine.

The report found that patients surveyed with said symptoms had a higher rate of readmission at 30 days after discharge (0.563 vs. 0.296) (DOI: 10.1002/jhm.673). Similar data were found at both 60 and 90 days after discharge.

Suzanne Mitchell, MD, MS, an instructor at Boston University School of Medicine/Boston Medical Center and one of the authors of the study, thinks the work should be a first step toward creating transitional-care programs that target depressive symptoms. “If we just screen and have nothing to offer, we’re not really helping patients out,” Dr. Mitchell says. “It’s an important piece to have some kind of program available to help bridge the transition process.”

Dr. Mitchell says that as more research associates depression with readmission rates, HM leaders will begin to see the value in creating programs to better communicate with patients about it. Ideas include follow-up phone calls with a PCP to discuss mental-health support options.

She adds that while hospitalists taking patient histories might glean information about depressive symptoms, HM groups can consider more targeted questions to determine a patient’s risk.

“Being able to open that conversation and having it on your radar is very important,” Dr. Mitchell says. “I find that if I don’t open the conversation, it doesn’t happen. But once I do, the patient is open to disclosing.”

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