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Hospital Readmissions All Too Common, U.S. Studies Find
Date:1/23/2013

By Serena Gordon
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, Jan. 22 (HealthDay News) -- As many as one in five people who have been hospitalized may end up back in the hospital -- either in the emergency room or readmitted as an inpatient, according to two large new studies of millions of U.S. patients.

The first study found that about 20 percent of people discharged from the hospital ended up needing acute care within the next 30 days. The second study looked at readmission rates for specific conditions -- heart failure, heart attack and pneumonia -- and found readmission rates between 18 percent and 25 percent within a month.

"We know that readmissions have been a problem for some time, yet we don't seem to be able to crack this nut and figure out a way to reduce readmissions," said Dr. Anne-Marie Audet, vice president of health system quality and efficiency for the Commonwealth Fund in New York City.

"Readmission rates are a measure that shows that the system for care is not integrated well enough. It's not necessarily an indicator that the hospital is poor quality or the primary-care physician is poor quality -- it's the whole system," Audet said. "The only way we can achieve better health, better health outcomes and better cost is to bring everyone together. But it's quite a complex issue."

Audet co-wrote an editorial that accompanied the two new studies, which were published in the Jan. 23 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The first study is an example of how complex an issue readmission rates can be. Although anyone readmitted for inpatient care is considered a readmission, if someone seeks care in the emergency room after being discharged from the hospital and is then released from the ER, they are generally not counted as a readmission. Clearly these people are an indication of a problem in the transition of care from the hospital to a primary-care doctor, Audet said. '/>"/>

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