Hospital or Home Treatment

Is there a choice?

There is a movement developing called Hospital at Home. It already exists in Europe and it is slowly catching on in the US. The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine is spearheading the movement. Instead of admitting a patient to the hospital for relatively straightforward conditions nurses and doctors administer to the patients in the patient's home.

Home treatment is a plausible alternative that should be thought about by the patient because it is no secret that hospitals aren't the safest place to spend a few days. The Institute of Medicine, the health arm of the National Academy of Sciences, issued a frightening report entitled, To Err is Human, which concludes that an estimated 44,000 to 98,000 people die each year in hospitals as a result of preventable mistakes. Countless thousands more pick up infections which shorten life spans or damage the patient's heath or mental function. This is especially true in older patients.

Older patients can become disoriented or confused which leads to sedation or restraints causing long term effects in mental function. Other patients develop devastating pressure sores or loss of muscle effecting their ability to perform daily tasks of life, and leading to an unnecessary downward spiral.

Pictured above is a pressure sore which eventually lead to cellulitis on an active 85 year old woman who had suffered a fractured leg as a result of an auto accident. Normally she would have been treated in the hospital for about one week and transferred to a rehabilitation facility for several weeks then returning to her home for outpatient physical therapy. As a result of the cellulitis she was hospitalized for several months and underwent painful wound care.

The only hospital at home programs currently existing in the US are at Hopkins, the VA Medical Centers in Portland, and New Orleans and Presbyterian Healthcare Services in Albuquerque, NM.


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