A new study finds that more elderly patients in the emergency departments of hospitals are being held for observation rather than admitted as inpatients. Pressure from Medicare to reduce unnecessary hospitalization may be driving the trend. But being classified as an outpatient, rather than being admitted, can increase out-of-pocket costs for patients. The study is reported in the June edition of Health Affairs.
PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — Nobody wins when patients stay in the hospital unnecessarily, so the federal government in recent years has pushed hospitals to be careful about admitting Medicare recipients as inpatients. The apparent result is that more patients are being “held for observation” instead, according to a new study by Brown University gerontologists. While the shift in how hospitals care for elderly patients in the emergency department may reduce costs to Medicare, it can also increase out-of-pocket expenditures for patients. (more…)