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The cost of healthcare related events is astronomical.

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The cost of healthcare related events is astronomical. Tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars can be incurred by an individual after just one hospital admission. The longer a patient remains in the hospital, the more debt they accrue. Every aspect of their stay, from the food they eat to the surgical intervention, is recorded and billed to the patient. Charges can sometimes appear even before they are discharged, creating a great amount of angst for the patient as they worry about how they will be able to afford the help they receive.
Something as simple as staying alive seems as though it should be a basic right to everyone, but it comes at a cost when one’s declining health brings them into the hospital. To manage costs for the patient, healthcare providers, specifically nurses, can play a vital role in reducing costs to patients. Some major ways a nurse can help limit the cost to a patient includes reducing unnecessary events that occur during the hospital stay, promoting recovery to reduce length of stay, and promoting wellness to reduce admission rates in the community.
Unnecessary events occur every day in the hospital, and they drive up patient and hospital costs. For example, falls are a major concern within the healthcare setting. Fall-related injuries can cause pain, disability, functional impairment, and increase mortality and morbidity in hospital settings (Spetz et. al., 2015). Falls not only increase the cost to the current admission, but if a patient develops a secondary complication, such as a hip fracture or head trauma, they could suffer complications through life that increases their and/or the facilities costs (Spetz et. al., 2015).
Nurses play a vital roll in preventing falls. Many institutions have implemented a falls prevention program or committee, which involves nurses to stay current on best practices for preventing falls as well as education for nurses who were part of a patient incident involving a fall (Spetz et. al., 2015). One of the most important ways a nurse can prevent a fall in the hospital setting is by turning on chair and bed alarms and leaving the call bell within reach of the patient. By doing this, nurses can assist patients when they need to get up, or are alerted to patients who have stood, but may need close supervision with ambulation. The cost of such equipment is miniscule compared to the financial burden placed on an institution and patient after a fall.
Preventing falls and limiting mobility of a patient is a fine line that must be walked by nursing staff. While it is important to keep a patient safe in the room, it is also important to have them up and ambulating to promote their ability to be self-sufficient, promote recovery, and limit their length of stay as well as 30-day readmission rate (Fleming et al., 2018). Coming from a background that works with cardiac surgery and heart failure individuals, my skillset is specifically used to promote recovery in surgical patients and increase functional ability in all heart patients by promoting ambulation. In doing so, patient’s length of stay and 30-day readmission rates are decreased. Both length of stay and readmission rates are major factors in decreasing costs to patients and healthcare institutions. Lack of physical activity in the hospital setting is associated with increased length of stay and hospital acquired infections, which are a major cost burden on all institutions (Fleming et al., 2018). Early ambulation ensures patients can be discharged from the hospital in a timely manner, but also able to function at home at an appropriate level so that are not readmitted shortly after discharge due to inactivity (Fleming et al., 2018). Both factors are major cost savings to the patient and the institution.
Finally, health promotion is a major way in which nurses can limit costs of healthcare without affecting quality of care. Box 7.3 in the text by Cherry and Jacob (2019) provides ways consumers can reduce health care costs. Some of the methods listed may be promoted by nursing in any healthcare setting. Encouraging healthy eating and physical activity habits, routine checkups, and self-exams are all methods nurses can educate patients about (Cherry et. al., 2019). It is important for the nurse to educate patients on when to seek treatment, and what warrants an emergency room visit versus when to call the doctor (Cherry et. al., 2019). Staying up to date on what medications and offering generics can save patients countless dollars not only at the pharmacy, but will also help encourage adherence to a regimen as they are more likely to adhere to medications they are able to afford (Cherry et. al., 2019). Whether it is during an inpatient stay or at a doctor’s visit, nurses can talk with a patient about lifestyle modifications that can help improve their quality of life. By improving their overall health, they will have less complications that would lead to them being admitted to hospitals.
Overall, nurses can greatly affect the costly burden of health care imposed both on patients and institutions. By preventing unnecessary events during admittance in the hospital, promoting wellness during the stay to reduce length of stay, and educating patients on healthy living, nurses can ease the medical costs incurred by patients in the hospital setting.
References
Cherry, B., Jacob, S. R. (2019). Contemporary nursing: issues, trends, & management. Mosby.
Fleming, L. M., Zhao, X., DeVore, A. D., Heidenreich, P. A., Yancy, C. W., Fonarow, G. C., Hernandez, A. F., & Kociol, R. D. (2018). Early Ambulation Among Hospitalized Heart Failure Patients Is Associated With Reduced Length of Stay and 30-Day Readmissions. Circulation: Heart Failure, 11(4). https://doi.org/10.1161/circheartfailure.117.004634
Spetz, J., Brown, D. S., & Aydin, C. (2015). The Economics of Preventing Hospital Falls. JONA: The Journal of Nursing Administration, 45(1), 50–57. https://doi.org/10.1097/nna.0000000000000154