Original Study| Volume 11, ISSUE 4, P239-245, May 2010

Perceived Barriers to Communication Between Hospital and Nursing Home at Time of Patient Transfer


      To identify perceived barriers to communication between hospital and nursing home at the time of patient transfer and examine associations between perceived barriers and hospital and nursing home characteristics.


      Mailed survey.


      Medicare- or Medicaid-certified nursing homes in New York State.


      Nursing home administrators, with input from other nursing home staff.


      Respondents rated the importance as a barrier to hospital-nursing home communication of (1) hospital providers' attitude, time, effort, training, payment, and familiarity with nursing home patients; (2) unplanned and off-hours transfers; (3) HIPAA privacy regulations; and (4) lost or failed information transmission. Associations were determined between barriers and the following organizational characteristics: (1) hospital-nursing home affiliations, pharmacy or laboratory agreements, cross-site staff visits, and cross-site physician care; (2) hospital size, teaching status, and frequency of geriatrics specialty care; (3) nursing home size, location, type, staffing, and Medicare quality indicators; and (4) hospital-to-nursing home communication, consistency of hospital care with health care goals, and communication quality improvement efforts.


      Of 647 questionnaires sent, 229 were returned (35.4%). The most frequently reported perceived barriers to communication were sudden or unplanned transfers (44.4%), transfers that occur at night or on the weekend (41.4%), and hospital providers' lack of effort (51.0%), lack of familiarity with patients (45.0%), and lack of time (43.5%). Increased hospital size, teaching hospitals, and urban nursing home location were associated with greater perceived importance of these barriers, and cross-site staff visits and hospital provision of laboratory and pharmacy services to the nursing home were associated with lower perceived importance of these barriers.


      Hospital and nursing home characteristics and interorganizational relationships were associated with nursing home administrators' perceptions of barriers to hospital-nursing home communication. These findings may inform design and targeting of interventions to improve intersite communication processes.


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