Readmission burden high for those with sickle cell disease


Patients with sickle cell disease are 2.5 times more likely to be readmitted within 30 days of a hospital stay than those without SCD, according to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

30-day readmisison rates with or without SCD by age, 2016

The 30-day all-cause readmission rate for index stays with a principal diagnosis of SCD was 33.5% in 2016, compared with 12.5% for non-SCD hospital stays. Patients with a secondary diagnosis of SCD had readmission rates of 32.9% with a pain crisis and 21.0% without one, and the overall readmission rate for an index stay with any SCD diagnosis was 31.1%, Kathryn R. Fingar, PhD, MPH, of IBM Watson Health, Sacramento, Calif., and associates wrote in an AHRQ statistical brief.

When age is factored in, the readmission gap between a principal SCD diagnosis and non-SCD becomes even greater – and smaller. The difference was greatest for patients aged 18-34 years – 39.4% with a principal diagnosis of SCD versus 7.8% without any SCD – and then narrowed as patients got older. For those aged 65 years and older, the rates were 22.6% with a principal diagnosis of SCD and 15.9% without, the investigators reported.

The approximately 100,000 Americans with SCD accounted for 134,000 admissions in 2016, and more than three-quarters of those stays involved a pain crisis. A principal diagnosis of SCD was recorded for almost 96,000 of those visits, and nearly all (96%) of those stays involved a pain crisis. For those with a secondary diagnosis of SCD, the most common reasons for hospitalization were diseases of the respiratory system (14.3% of those stays) and infectious and parasitic diseases (13.2%).

Patients with SCD were more likely than non-SCD patients to be admitted from the ED (79.6% vs. 51.3%), and they were more likely to discharged against medical advice (4.1% vs. 1.2%). Among those who left the hospital against medical advice, patients with SCD were much more likely to be readmitted than those without SCD (46.6% vs. 26.5%), based on data from the AHRQ’s Nationwide Readmissions Database.

Improved treatment of complications has “reduced mortality rates so that nearly 95% of individuals born with SCD in the United States reach 18 years of age [but] limited knowledge of SCD treatment guidelines among healthcare professionals continues to pose a barrier to effective patient-provider relationships, and this barrier contributes to lower quality of life,” Dr. Fingar and associates wrote.

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