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20 percent of hospitalized Medicare patients readmitted to hospital within 30 days
Date:4/1/2009

New York, NY, April 1, 2009One of five Medicare beneficiaries discharged from the hospital is readmitted within 30 days, and half of non-surgical patients are readmitted to the hospital without having seen an outpatient doctor in follow-up, according to a Commonwealth Fund-supported study in today's New England Journal of Medicine. All told, unplanned rehospitalizations cost Medicare $17.4 billion in 2004, the study says. The study, "Rehospitalizations Among Patients in the Medicare Fee-for-Service Program," by Stephen Jencks, M.D., M.P.H., Mark V. Williams, M.D., and Eric A. Coleman, M.D., M.P.H., highlights the costs and health impact of rehospitalization. It also details the key reasons for rehospitalizations, and highlights gaps in patient management that may be contributing to the high rates.

"Health care reform is front and center on the national stage. As policymakers debate reform proposals, it's important for them to consider policies that will foster care integration and coordination while encouraging hospitals to reduce readmissions," said Commonwealth Fund Vice President Anne-Marie Audet, M.D. "Payment reform that provides the right incentives for patient-centered care is a win for everyone. We can improve patients' lives and health, save our health care system billions of dollars, and strengthen the primary care system."

The researchers found wide variation in rehospitalization rates among states. Between October 2003 and December 2004, the five states with the highest rehospitalization rates (Maryland, New Jersey, Louisiana, Illinois, and Mississippi) had rates 45 percent higher than the five states with the lowest rates (Idaho, Utah, Oregon, Colorado, and New Mexico).

They also found variation in the reasons for rehospitalization. Most patients were rehospitalized for conditions other than those for which they were originally hospitalized. The rehospitalizations were so rapid that these conditions should probab
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Contact: Mary Mahon
mm@cmwf.org
212-606-3853
Commonwealth Fund
Source:Eurekalert

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