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For Hospitals, Lowered Death Rates May Not Mean More Readmissions
Date:2/12/2013

By Serena Gordon
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, Feb. 12 (HealthDay News) -- Hospital readmission rates are used in part to judge the quality of a hospital's care, and some experts have worried that hospitals who serve the sickest patients may be unfairly penalized because they'll likely have higher readmission rates.

Now, new U.S. research says these two factors do not go hand-in-hand.

After reviewing data on almost 3 million hospital admissions for people on Medicare who'd had a heart attack, pneumonia or heart failure, Yale University researchers found that 30-day death rates weren't strongly associated with a hospital's performance on 30-day readmission rates.

"These measures were developed to improve hospitals," said the study's lead author, Dr. Harlan Krumholz, professor of medicine at Yale University School of Medicine in New Haven, Conn. "But some worry that how you do on one measure may dictate how well you do on another. So, if you're very successful in saving people, you're probably discharging a sicker person who may need to be readmitted."

But after looking at all the Medicare data, his team determined that's not the case. "We found these two measures are measuring very different things, and they weren't related at all for heart attack and pneumonia patients, though there was a very weak association with heart failure survival and readmission," he said.

Results of the study are published in the Feb. 13 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

In a previous study, published in the Jan. 23 issue of the journal, Yale researchers found that about one in five people discharged from the hospital end up readmitted.

In the current study, the researchers found that just over 24 percent of those hospitalized for heart failure were readmitted within 30 days of discharge. Of those who were hospitalized for heart attack, nearly 20 percent were readmitted to the h
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