Recovery in motion: Post-discharge activity level linked to risk of hospital readmission in elderly

A new study has found a link between the activity levels of elderly people who have just been released from the hospital and the risk that they will require readmission within 30 days.

The investigation draws on data collected from 111 patients aged 65 and older, each of whom was fitted with a "step activity monitor" during his or her hospital stay. Worn on the patient's ankle, the pager-sized device counted every step the person took during hospitalization and for a week after discharge.

"We're using activity here as a , similar to the way you might use blood pressure," said University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston assistant professor Steve R. Fisher, lead author of a paper in Journals of Gerontology Series A. "While we can't say whether activity is a cause or effect in these cases, we can use it as a marker to tell us whether a person is at high risk and we need to intervene."

Geriatricians want to reduce readmissions among the elderly because hospitalization can actually endanger their health by reducing activity levels and contributing to debilitating . Hospitals have an additional motivation: In October 2012, Medicare began financially penalizing hospitals with higher than expected 30-day readmission rates for certain diagnoses.

Fisher envisions hospitals using inexpensive electronic pedometers to monitor elderly patient activity in the and for a brief period after discharge.

"If you suffer , a nurse will call you during the first week home to ask how whether you've gained any weight, because an increase in can be a sign that CHF is exacerbating," Fisher said. "This is the same kind of principle: We want to know how much people are moving around, because we want to know whether they're going downhill. The key is to avoid re-hospitalization, which often starts a cascade of events that leads to debility."

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

A few steps could lead to big gains for hospitalized seniors

Dec 10, 2010

"You'll be back on your feet in no time" is a phrase familiar to anyone who's ever had to spend time in a hospital. Now, a new study has shown that hospitalized elderly patients who literally "get back on their feet" by taking ...

Readmissions frequent in month after hospital discharge

Jan 22, 2013

Following hospitalization for heart attacks, heart failure, or pneumonia, patients are at high risk of being readmitted for a broad spectrum of medical conditions in the month following hospital discharge, research at Yale ...

Recommended for you

New toilets for India's poor, crime-hit village

15 minutes ago

More than 100 new toilets were unveiled Sunday in a poverty-stricken and scandal-hit village in northern India, where fearful and vulnerable women have long been forced to defecate in the open.

Can YouTube save your life?

Aug 29, 2014

Only a handful of CPR and basic life support (BLS) videos available on YouTube provide instructions which are consistent with recent health guidelines, according to a new study published in Emergency Medicine Australasia, the jo ...

Doctors frequently experience ethical dilemmas

Aug 29, 2014

(HealthDay)—For physicians trying to balance various financial and time pressures, ethical dilemmas are common, according to an article published Aug. 7 in Medical Economics.

AMGA: Physician turnover still high in 2013

Aug 29, 2014

(HealthDay)—For the second year running, physician turnover remains at the highest rate since 2005, according to a report published by the American Medical Group Association (AMGA).

Obese or overweight teens more likely to become smokers

Aug 29, 2014

A study examining whether overweight or obese teens are at higher risk for substance abuse finds both good and bad news: weight status has no correlation with alcohol or marijuana use but is linked to regular ...

User comments