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    A simple approach to reducing hospital readmissions

    RE “Medicare to fine hospitals for readmissions” (Page A2, Oct. 1): Forty years ago a continuing-care project at Yale-New Haven Hospital, at which I worked, identified the issue of multiple readmissions to the hospital of mainly chronically ill patients. We arranged for the nurses who were discharging such patients to ask them four simple questions:

    Do you live alone or with an adult person?

    How do you get your prescription drugs?

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    How do you get and prepare food?

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    How many steps must you climb to get to your residence?

    If the answers was unsatisfactory, the hospital would refer those patients to the community visiting nurse or social services agency. I recall that these measures resulted in fewer readmissions and that this was an uncomplicated, inexpensive effort.

    Arthur Mazer

    Cambridge