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What Can Be Done to Reduce Post-Hospital Syndrome?

A fifth of patients treated under Medicare, 2.6 million individuals, return to the hospital for further treatment within 30 days.

by
Theodore Dalrymple

Bio

January 19, 2013 - 7:00 am
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To all this may be added poor nutrition. One study showed that a fifth of elderly patients in hospital received less than a half of their daily food requirements. In other words, such patients are in effect starving under the eyes of doctors and nurses. Weight loss and lower protein levels in the blood predict patient readmission to hospital.

Elderly patients have reduced cognitive reserve: that is to say, they have less flexibility in appreciating new situations, and unfortunately hospitals have grown ever more bewilderingly kaleidoscopic, partly for reasons of technology and partly because of organizational changes. It is not uncommon, for example, for patients not to meet the same staff twice; bewilderment is a precursor of paranoia.

Is there a solution to all this? As our hospitals have grown ever more sophisticated technologically and more capable of seemingly miraculous technical procedures, so the human being who should be the focus of all this activity, and even common sense, seems often to be lost sight of. Theoretically, it should be possible and even easy to ameliorate many of the factors that lead to post-hospital syndrome; but I suspect that the same or very similar article will be apposite in twenty years’ time.

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Images courtesy shutterstock /  Lisa F. Youngwavebreakmedia / WilleeCole

More from Dr. Dalrymple at PJ Lifestyle:

What Is the Best Way to Treat Diabetes?

The Worldwide Evolution of Life Expectancy

The Sleep-Deprived Doctor Saving Your Life

As Life Expectancy Increases Will the Elderly Become a Greater ‘Burden on Society’?

Should Doctors Lie to Their Patients About Their Survival Chances?

How Doctors Turn Their Patients into Drug Addicts

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Theodore Dalrymple, a physician, is a contributing editor of City Journal and the Dietrich Weismann Fellow at the Manhattan Institute. His new book is Second Opinion: A Doctor's Notes from the Inner City.
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