Heart failure, a complex clinical syndrome affecting millions of Americans, is associated with high morbidity and mortality and a significant financial burden on the health care system. Recent health care reform efforts have focused on reducing 30-day heart failure hospital readmissions, increasing the cost-effectiveness of care provided to heart failure patients, and improving health outcomes for these patients. This case report describes an acutely ill patient with multiple comorbidities who was not initially admitted for heart failure but who developed acute decompensated heart failure during his hospital stay. The purpose of this in-depth analysis is to discuss the role of bedside nurses and advanced practice nurses in managing heart failure, describe the challenges of identifying secondary heart failure in patients with complex conditions, and suggest methods of improving health-related outcomes to prevent hospital readmissions.

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