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THURSDAY, May 1, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Heart bypass surgery patients in a special home care program are less likely to be readmitted to the hospital or to die within a month after going home, according to a new study.
The study included 401 patients who had heart bypass surgery in a New York hospital in 2010 and 2011. Of those, 232 received the usual care after hospital discharge, while 169 were enrolled in a pilot program called Follow Your Heart.
The program includes two home visits from a cardiac surgery nurse practitioner in the first week to 10 days after leaving the hospital. It also includes a routine visit to the surgeon 10 to 14 days after discharge, numerous phone calls from the nurse practitioner and 24-hour phone access to hospital medical staff.
Patients in the Follow Your Heart program were three times less likely than those in the usual care group to be readmitted to the hospital or die within 30 days of going home, 3.8 percent vs. 11.5 percent.
The Follow Your Heart program also led to significant cost savings, according to the study in the May issue of The Annals of Thoracic Surgery.
Previous research has shown that 20 percent of Medicare patients are readmitted to the hospital within 30 days of heart bypass surgery, according to study author Dr. Michael Hall, of North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset, N.Y.
"The nurse practitioners are the key to this program's success because they provide patients they know from the hospital setting with robust continuity of care they need immediately after hospital discharge, while helping community resources better prepare for the patient handoff," Hall said in a journal news release.
"We hope to continue our studies with patients with other medical diagnoses, such as heart failure, and determine the most efficient way for excellent, cost-efficient and sustainable long-term care for these challenging patients," he added.
While the study found a link between the program and re-hospitalization or death risk, it didn't establish a cause-and-effect relationship.
The U.S. National Library of Medicine has more about heart bypass surgery.