Nursing’s Role in Successful Transitions Across Settings
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Care transitions across settings (hospital, other institutional settings, and home) are vulnerable exchange points for patients and family caregivers that contribute to higher risk of poor health outcomes.1 The Institute of Medicine and National Quality Forum identified improving transitions across the continuum from acute care to home as a national priority.2,3 Despite this, care transitions for individuals with disabling conditions, such as stroke, remain inefficient, resulting in unmet patient and caregiver needs, increased safety risks, high rates of preventable readmissions, and increased healthcare costs.4 Nurses have an integral role in care coordination activities at various practice levels and settings, thus nurses can help transform healthcare delivery for stroke survivors through improving transitions.
Stroke is the leading cause of major disability. Annually, ≈800 000 people are hospitalized for stroke in the United States. In 2010, there were ≈6.6 million stroke survivors with a predicted increase in prevalence of >20% over the next 20 years.5 Despite medical advances resulting in reduced stroke mortality, disability after stroke remains a major concern and adds complexity to care transitions for this population. Given stroke prevalence, improving nurses’ engagement in optimizing care transitions for this population is essential.
Readmissions after discharge from institutional settings to the community are a closely monitored measurement of care transition effectiveness. Readmissions may indicate unresolved problems, discharge to an inappropriate level of care, quality of immediate posthospital care, or a combination of these factors.6 Thirty-day readmission rates after hospital discharge are reported at 14.4%, with 11.9% of these determined as preventable.7 Readmissions after discharge from inpatient rehabilitation facilities range from 9.0% to 16.7%, varying with the severity of stroke impairment.8 Patients discharged to skilled nursing facilities have the highest 30-day readmission rates.9 Readmissions are associated with substantial economic burden on the healthcare …