A Description of Adverse Events in Home Healthcare

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Abstract

Patient safety has taken on increasing importance in the American healthcare system, yet there is little information on patient safety in home healthcare. The current study aimed to describe the most frequent adverse events defined by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services among the national population of patients receiving home healthcare in 2003, and to compare characteristics between patients who experience adverse events and those who do not. The findings show that 13% of all home healthcare patients had an adverse event, with 80% experiencing only 1 adverse event. More than three fourths of the adverse events were associated with discharge to the community and required continued assistance. Patients who experienced adverse events were older, had more depressive symptoms and behavioral problems, and were more functionally impaired. Women had a slightly lower relative risk of an adverse event (.98), whereas patients of minority ethnicity had a slightly higher relative risk (1.06). These findings suggest that home healthcare agencies may need to spend more time on discharge planning after home healthcare and work with existing community providers. The findings also raise questions regarding the appropriateness of these adverse events and whether there are additional adverse events that warrant monitoring and follow-up evaluation.

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