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J Cardiovasc Nurs. 2011 Sep-Oct;26(5):368-76. doi: 10.1097/JCN.0b013e318202b15c.

Bridging the gap between hospital and home: a new model of care for reducing readmission rates in chronic heart failure.

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Pacific Lutheran University School of Nursing, Tacoma, WA 98403, USA.


Advanced cardiovascular interventions and an aging population contribute to the growing prevalence of patients with heart failure (HF). Improved medical management, while decreasing mortality, has increased morbidity and cost, with a majority of expense related to preventable hospitalizations. Evidence-based guidelines for discharge instruction, when successfully administered, reduce readmission rates in high-risk HF patients, leading to improved quality of life and economic savings. Unfortunately, effective delivery is complex and time consuming, placing a high demand on already overworked bedside nurses. Failure to provide complete discharge instructions results in nonadherence to treatment regimens and lack of essential follow-up, the most commonly identified reasons for acute HF exacerbations and readmissions. To improve quality of care, hospitals need to adopt a new model that incorporates delivery of intensive, 1-on-1 education to high-risk HF patients during the hospital stay with continuing support, guidance, and education throughout the transition from hospital to home. This can be achieved through implementation of a 2-tiered model that incorporates a risk-assessment tool with utilization of a HF nurse educator. The simple, evidence-based bedside screening tool will allow medical-surgical nurses to quickly identify and refer HF patients at high risk of readmission to a HF nurse educator. With an advanced degree and specialized training, the nurse educator is responsible for providing in-depth discharge teaching and bridging the gap from hospital to home. The end result is improved self-management, increased quality of life, reduced hospital admissions, and an associated decrease in societal costs of HF.

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