Studying the Causes of Delayed Discharge for Children With Medical Complexities
For families and healthcare professionals, news of a nursing shortage is not news at all – it’s a struggle that many home care companies, hospitals, and other care facilities across the nation have been dealing with. But what impact is it having on children with medical complexities? In many cases, it is delaying a patient’s ability to discharge from the hospital.
A collaborative study
PHS Medical Director Roy Maynard, MD, collaborated with local healthcare providers on a 12-month study of children with medical complexities discharging with home health to determine the causes for delayed discharge – and the abstract of this study was recently published in the Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics.
The study, which occurred from April 1, 2016 through March 31, 2017, followed patients in four children’s hospitals in Minnesota who fit the requirements for inclusion – the need for more than eight hours of home care nursing per week at hospital discharge. Once participants were identified, Dr. Maynard and other study personnel were notified of the timeline for when a patient would be ready for hospital discharge. From that point, any causes for and the number of delayed days in discharge were tracked in addition to causes of unplanned hospital readmissions within 7-90 days postdischarge.
Delays due to a lack of nursing
Over the span of 12 months, 185 patients were studied and defined as either ‘new’ (a newborn or child not deemed medically complex prior to hospitalization) or ‘existing’ (previously defined as medically complex with established home care nursing prior to admission) patients.
A shortage of home care nurse availability was the cause for delays in discharge in the majority of the cases – reinforcing the fact that the nursing shortage is increasing healthcare costs as children are in-patient at hospitals longer than necessary.