Conference Coverage

Medicare beneficiaries get few home health visits after ICU stay



Medicare beneficiaries are receiving a low number of rehabilitation visits in the early posthospitalization period after critical illness, an analysis of hospital and home health claims data suggests.

The beneficiaries, all discharged directly to home health after an intensive care unit stay, received an average of less than one visit per week in the ensuing month, while a full third received no visits at all, according to authors of the analysis, presented at the Critical Care Congress sponsored by the Society of Critical Care Medicine.

Living alone and living in a rural area were associated with significantly fewer home health rehabilitation visits, according to investigator Jason Raymond Falvey, PT, DPT, PhD, of Yale University, New Haven, Conn.

“We identified that these patients are receiving low doses of rehabilitation in home health care settings, and perhaps doses low enough to not be physiologically adequate to overcome the deconditioning and aerobic capacity concerns that these patients have,” Dr. Falvey said.

These findings reflect an “underrecognition” of the importance of rehabilitation both outside and inside the hospital setting, according to Patricia J. Posa, RN, of Saint Joseph Mercy Hospital, Northville, Mich.

“We even struggle to provide sufficient rehabilitation while they’re in the hospital,” Ms. Posa said in an interview. “So I think that we still have a major gap in providing rehab services across the continuum, and part of that is recognizing the deficits that patients, especially our elderly patients, might be leaving the hospital with.”

Medicare beneficiaries who survive a critical illness are often discharged with referrals for physical, occupational, or speech therapy, yet there are not much data on the delivery of that care or how many visits actually take place, according to Dr. Falvey.


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