Medicolegal Issues

Hospitalists Urged to Help Reduce 30-Day Readmission Rate


For hospitals across the country, 2013 is the year to address readmissions and find practical solutions. In January, the Journal of the American Medical Association dedicated

an entire issue to the vexing problem of hospital readmissions. In his audio summary of the issue, JAMA editor Howard Bauchner, MD, notes that it “came together organically,” based on increased submissions and attention to 30-day readmissions.

Among nearly a dozen articles focused on readmissions, discharge, and transitions of care, Project BOOST principal investigator Mark V. Williams, MD, FACP, MHM, makes the case for a community-based approach in an editorial titled “A Requirement to Reduce Readmissions: Take Care of the Patient, Not Just the Disease.” In the piece, he advocates for “broad patient-centered approaches that engage all members of a care team, especially front-line clinicians and use proven quality-improvement [QI] methods.” He goes on to link the concepts to the principles taught by Project BOOST.

After all, readmissions are expensive, and not just for hospitals, which is why private insurers and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) are investing resources to improve discharge processes, reduce readmissions, and reduce costs.

Many adverse events that happen after discharge are predictable using assessment tools and methods in the Project BOOST program, Dr. Williams says. Hospitalists can—and should, according to many—improve the system to protect patients.

And while systemwide change doesn’t happen overnight, it does have to start somewhere, as leaders at the 150-plus Project BOOST sites nationwide can attest Now is the time to begin planning to join the Project BOOST 2013 cohort. Applications will be accepted through this summer; training will begin in the fall. But participation is limited, and successful applicants often need time to prepare their applications, which must include letters of support from a site executive and the development of a multidisciplinary team. For more information, visit

Brendon Shank is SHM’s associate vice president of communications.

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