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SPM member Marge Benham-Hutchins (see her December post) spotted this item. It’s a vital point for patient and family awareness, leading to patient engagement – patients as responsible drivers of their health. I added the italics below.

From a recent Perspectives essay in the New England Journal:

“To promote successful recovery after a hospitalization, health care professionals often focus on issues related to the acute illness that precipitated the hospitalization. Their disproportionate attention to the hospitalization’s cause, however, may be misdirected. Patients who were recently hospitalized are not only recovering from their acute illness; they also experience a period of generalized risk for a range of adverse health events.”

Well-known Yale professor Harlan Krumholz MD discusses an important emerging topic, Post-Hospital Syndrome – that time when patients are vulnerable due to the hospitalization itself, not the illness that precipitated the hospitalization. To me this is an excellent example of why patients, and/or their family, should have access to their records during hospitalization.

The site also has an audio interview with Dr. Krumholz, in which he describes how this idea evolved. Lots of good additional information.

Note from Dave – Krumholz’s editorial discusses the many ways people can be adversely affected by the hospital stay, and near the end says: (emphasis added)

At a minimum, we should assess a patient’s condition at discharge by soliciting details far beyond those related to the initial illness.

As we determine readiness for transition from the inpatient setting, we should be aware of functional disabilities, both cognitive and physical, and align care and support appropriately. We should also use risk-mitigation strategies that stretch beyond the cause of the initial hospitalization and seek to prevent infections, metabolic disorders, falls, trauma, and the gamut of events that commonly occur during this period of generalized risk.

Don’t you wish every patient received this kind of advice at discharge, or even at admission, for planning purposes?  Well, now you have it – and you can cite the NEJM.  Thanks, Marge.


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