The Hazards of Leaving the Hospital | Heart and Vascular Health |

After being discharged from the hospital, patients may feel relief—and a false sense of security that they are home free

Instead, studies show, patients are vulnerable to a wide range of adverse health events and complications, and they often end up back in the hospital within weeks. Annually, nearly one-fifth of Medicare patients—about 2.6 million older adults—end up readmitted within 30 days, a problem so costly that the federal health program now penalizes hospitals for any readmission deemed to be preventable for heart attack, pneumonia and heart failure. A New England Journal of Medicine report identified the condition as "post-hospital syndrome" that might derive as much from the physical and emotional stress patients experience in the hospital as from lingering effects of the original illness.