Simple Problem Solving is Sometimes All We Need to Increase Quality and Reduce Costs

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Yesterday was a good day for Victoria and her patient.

Victoria is a nurse here at the Coalition and yesterday was her first case conference. Her patient has advanced COPD. He had been discharged from the hospital to a rehab center where he desperately needed physical therapy to help him recover some mobility and strength.

Her patient was very anxious about the mucus in his lungs choking him so he wasn’t getting enough sleep and while his wife knew how to suction him, she didn’t have a suction machine at home. That would mean a rushed trip to the Emergency Department (ED) if he needed help.

Victoria had spoken with his wife the day before and knew everything he would need at home to manage his condition once he left rehab. Her goal –manage him through rehab and try to keep him out of the ED once he got home.

As she listened to the care team, she realized they were discharging him that day because his wife couldn’t get his portable oxygen (O2) tanks to the rehab center. Without the O2 tanks, he couldn’t walk and if he couldn’t walk, the physical therapist wouldn’t be able to report any progress to the insurer. So his discharge papers were being signed as she watched.

Victoria is new and she didn’t want to overstep her bounds. But her patient was at risk of discharge, so she asked the simple question – “What if I go and pick up his tanks and bring them here – would that help?”

That question made the difference between discharge to the home and probably more visits to the hospital and weeks of therapy in a rehabilitation facility that will enable him to leave stronger and healthier and reduce his need for ED visits to manage his condition. The staff was grateful for the help. They are a good staff that will deliver great care during his stay.

Oh, and Victoria made sure he would get a suction machine delivered to his home after discharge.  Sometimes it’s just simple problem solving that can make all the difference.

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