Published: Nov. 30, 2010
Updated: Nov. 30, 2010
By age 65 and beyond, heart failure is the leading cause of hospitalization and subsequent rehospitalization in the United States. Close to 20 percent of patients hospitalized with heart failure experience a rehospitalization within 30 days.
Coronary artery disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes are among the many conditions that can lead to heart failure, but in some cases these conditions reveal a general pattern of a lack of preventive care.
At Duke Regional Hospital, a team utilized the Six Sigma process and tools to design a pilot program consisting of specific patient education and symptom management that included earlier follow-up appointments after a hospitalization and patients weighing themselves daily.
Through funding by the hospital’s auxiliary, a calendar and scales were provided to patients for their use at home.
The initial results are promising. Since the team’s first meeting in April 2009, the congestive heart failure pilot program has seen a reduction in readmissions for the pilot patient group.
This means fewer patients are being inconvenienced with multiple hospitalizations as their weight and symptoms are better managed and the progression of heart failure is more closely monitored.
Marilyn Wightman, manager of clinical outcomes at Duke Regional and a member of the team, says the pilot program has given patients the resources and knowledge to monitor their health in a number of ways.
“We are trying to give patients the education and tools, such as scales and calendars, to manage their heart failure as best as they can when they return home," says Wightman.
“The follow-up component of this process is also key to helping patients manage at home. If we can get them seen by their primary provider sooner after their discharge from the hospital, we have a better chance of reducing their need for hospitalization.”
“Because of the congestive heart failure program, we are able to help our patients take better care of themselves,” says Hope Ligon, RN, Unit 5-2 Telemetry.