Kicked Out of the Hospital Too Soon? Call This Number

The number is 1-800-MEDICARE (800-633-4227). It only applies if the patient is on Medicare, but it also works for protests of discharge from nursing homes too. The operator will send you on to your local Medicare QIO — Quality Improvement Organization, a little-known patient safety organization that has power to investigate and reverse dangerous decisions by hospitals and other caregivers that want to send home a patient too soon.

Thanks to Karen Jones of the Oregon QIO for posting this phone number in a NY Times blog on patient discharge planning. She adds:

For more information about the QIO program activities, including a 14-state care transitions project aimed at reducing hospital readmissions, visit http://www.cms.gov/QualityImprovementOrgs/.

More about QIO’s is in my book, “The Life You Save.” The QIO is also useful if something bad has already happened to a loved one in a hospital or nursing home. You can request an investigation by the QIO, and thanks to a legal precedent won by Public Citizen, the QIO is required to tell you the results of their investigation. (In the old days, the QIO’s were directed by the central Medicare office to invoke the veil of “confidentiality” to keep patients in the dark about what had really happened to them.)

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