Reducing 30-day Acute Care Readmissions for Heart Failure Patients Through Implementation of a Discharge Bundle

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Introduction Hospital readmissions have been a long-standing problem in the American healthcare system. Despite many efforts, programs, papers, and interventions identified and studied, 14% of all adult admissions result in a readmission. Readmissions are mostly considered preventable and are considered an indicator of care quality for a hospital. Due to unexpected readmissions, patients are at an increased risk for illness or injury, increased stress, financial strain, and diminished quality of life. Readmissions also negatively impact hospital systems related to decreased bed availability, stretched resources, and potential financial penalties and payment reductions. Patients with an admission related to heart failure are at an increased risk of readmission, with a national readmission rate of 23%. Methods A gap analysis identified procedural and organizational reasons for readmission in the heart failure population at North Oaks Medical Center. Using evidence-based best practice guidelines established by the American Heart Association, American College of Cardiology, and the Heart Failure Society of America, a 4-pronged proactive discharge bundle was implemented using the plan-do-study-act framework for continuous improvement. All patients admitted to the telemetry units with a primary or secondary diagnosis of heart failure received the discharge-planning bundle: 1) an early assessment by the case management department, 2) patient-centered specialty heart failure education, 3) pre-discharge medication delivery, and 4) pre-discharge physician follow up appointment scheduling within seven days of discharge. Results The evidence-based project was implemented over seven weeks, September through October of 2023 on the medical telemetry units. A total of 133 patients were evaluated for inclusion in the heart failure cohort. Of those, 52 patients received the evidence-based intervention with 2 of the patients experiencing a readmission due to heart failure (3.85%). Incidentally, it was found that patients without a readmission had an average of 2.3 completed interventions while those with readmissions had an average of 1.5 interventions. Discussion Findings from this quality improvement project suggest the use of the evidence-based, four-pronged approach to discharge planning for the heart failure patient population reduced the risk and rate of heart failure-related readmissions for the involved nursing units. These findings also surmise that there is a correlation between the number of interventions and the rate of readmission in the heart failure patient. Efforts to further implement this approach to include previously excluded patients should be explored. Additionally, it is recommended that additional interventions related to care transitions be implemented and tested to determine further improvement opportunities in heart failure readmission reduction.

DNP project
Patient readmission, Heart failure, Case management