Residents with behavioral issues have higher hospitalization risk than those with Alzheimer’s, dementia: study

October 23, 2019

An increased focus on avoidable hospitalizations among nursing home residents could be impacting some residents, a new study suggests. 

Nursing home residents with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias have a lower risk of potentially avoidable and unavoidable hospitalizations, according to findings published in the October issue of the Journal of Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine.

Researchers found that residents with ADRD had a 10% to 12% lower risk of unavoidable hospitalizations when compared to residents with behavioral health disorders and without ADRD. They also found those same residents had a 15% lower risk of potentially avoidable hospitalizations. 

Investigators noted that lower rates of potentially avoidable hospitalizations among nursing home residents has been considered an indicator of higher quality care and has garnered more attention from policymakers in efforts to improve quality of care and reduce Medicare costs. 

They added that more “research is needed to determine if important state policy factors, such as [nursing home] payment rates and quality regulations, help to reduce” potentially avoidable and unavoidable hospitalizations. 

“Today, [nursing homes] are subject to many national and state initiatives focused on quality improvements and cost-efficiencies directed largely at residents in skilled care facilities, but also increasingly impacting long stayers,” they concluded. “Although these programs are undoubtedly intended to improve overall care, they may have negative and unintended consequences for individuals with ADRD and BHD.”

The study used data from more than 800,000 residents in more than 15,000 nursing homes.