Why An Extended Hospital Stay Could Be Worse for Your Health

Most Canadians value the ability to have acute care in hospital when they are sick. But what happens when something goes wrong while you are receiving care? A new academic study shows harm occurs more often than many people realize. Canadians do not have to feel powerless. Fortunately, there is another option: to have additional insurance that can give you the tools you need to stay healthy -- before and after that hospital visit.

Hospital Harm Increases Length of Time in Care

The term "hospital harm" means an acute care hospitalization with at least one incident of preventable harm. That definition comes from a 2016 report by the Canadian Institute of Health Information. Harm arises from stay in hospital or medical procedures. Examples cited by the CIHI include pressure ulcers, sepsis, falls, and lacerations. Hospital harm by this definition occurs during the course of care, and also requires treatment in the same stay.

A new study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal found that 5.9 percent of hospitalizations in Ontario between April 1, 2015 to March 31, 2016 involved hospital harm. The study looked at a sample of 610,979 admissions over the course of that year. The authors found that 407,696 hospital days were the direct result of the harm -- not the original reason for admission.

That's a startling figure, not just for hospital administrators, but patients.

Patients Can Protect Themselves With Supplemental Insurance

It is fortunate that most Canadians can access some level of medical care, regardless of whether or not they have private insurance. But it makes things harder if hospitalization makes them sicker. Most patients are already vulnerable. It's common sense that patients are in the hospital because they are sick -- so they already face challenges to their wellbeing.

Most Canadians can work proactively to reduce the risk of facing those challenges. They have the option to buy supplemental insurance that works to fill the gaps.

Supplemental health insurance has several different components. Depending on the level of the plan, many patients may be able to get the care they need at home -- letting them leave the hospital earlier. Even if they have an extended stay, they can get help with the high cost of medications and medical supplies. Those items are not always covered by the province, but fundamental to good health and recovery.

Among the possible benefits from supplementary health plans include:

  • Hospital services
  • At-home nursing care
  • Rehabilitation therapy
  • Paramedical services
  • Prescription drugs
  • Medical equipment
  • Long-term care
  • Critical illness insurance

These are important potential benefits for anyone. But they seem particularly important in light of the news that being in hospital can actually lead to declining health. Patients can empower themselves with more services that they may need over the short and long term.

Find the Right Insurance Plan for You

The best time to consider your health insurance plan is before you face an unexpected crisis. You can take the time you need to review policies from competing providers. Shop online at Kanetix.ca for the latest health insurance quotes, so you know you have choices in the event the unanticipated happens.