Objectives: Many hospital admissions are due to inappropriate medical treatment, and discharge of fragile elderly patients involves a high risk of readmission. The present study aimed to assess whether a follow-up programme undertaken by GPs and district nurses could improve the quality of the medical treatment and reduce the risk of readmission of elderly newly discharged patients.
Design and setting: The patients were randomized to either an intervention group receiving a structured home visit by the GP and the district nurse one week after discharge followed by two contacts after three and eight weeks, or to a control group receiving the usual care.
Patients: A total of 331 patients aged 78+ years discharged from Glostrup Hospital, Denmark, were included.
Main outcome measures: Readmission rate within 26 weeks after discharge among all randomized patients. Control of medication, evaluated 12 weeks after discharge on 293 (89%) of the patients by an interview at home and by a questionnaire to the GP.
Results: Control-group patients were more likely to be readmitted than intervention-group patients (52% v 40%; p = 0.03). In the intervention group, the proportions of patients who used prescribed medication of which the GP was unaware (48% vs. 34%; p = 0.02) and who did not take the medication prescribed by the GP (39% vs. 28%; p = 0.05) were smaller than in the control group.
Conclusion: The intervention shows a possible framework securing the follow-up on elderly patients after discharge by reducing the readmission risk and improving medication control.