Hospital readmissions: a re-evaluation of criteria

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A prospective study surveyed patients discharged from the Cardiology, Cardiovascular Surgery, and Gastroenterology services of the Cleveland Clinic Hospital during April and September 1987. The total number of hospital discharges during the study period was 5,349; the study population discharged during this period included 1,640 patients (30.7% of all hospital discharges). In the study population, 149 patients were readmitted (9.1%). The percentage of readmissions was similar for both months and similar to that reported in the literature. However, when readmissions were categorized into four subsets, significant differences were found. The four categories were: 1) complication of a previous admission (16.8% of readmissions), 2) recurrence of the disease process (11.4% of readmissions), 3) planned treatment (53% of readmissions), and 4) unrelated new diagnosis (16.1% of readmissions). The authors conclude that reviewing readmission rates without using these subdivisions can be misleading, and the results are inappropriate for evaluating the quality of medical care given in an acute care hospital. They recommend that these four subdivisions be included in future studies of readmission rates in acute care hospitals.



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