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

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To get a better idea of how often people recently discharged from the hospital sought acute care, researchers reviewed data on more than 4 million adult hospitalizations in three large, geographically diverse areas in California, Florida and Nebraska. The average age of the hospitalized patient was 53.

Following discharge from the hospital, about 18 percent of those released ended up needing some type of acute care during the next 30 days. Of those people, 40 percent went to the emergency department. For every 1,000 discharges, 97.5 people went to the ER and were treated and released, while roughly 147 per 1,000 were readmitted to the hospital within 30 days.

"We see so many people in the emergency department that have just been in the hospital, and many patients come back for a prescription refill or for reassurance. There's a gap in care that brought them back to the emergency department," said study leader Dr. Anita Vashi, an ER physician and distinguished scholar at the Yale University School of Medicine in New Haven, Conn.

The second study reviewed more than 3 million hospital discharges in Medicare patients and found that nearly 25 percent of those hospitalized for heart failure were readmitted within 30 days of discharge. Of those who were hospitalized for heart attack, almost 20 percent were readmitted to the hospital within that time frame. Of those hospitalized for pneumonia, more than 18 percent had to be readmitted.

Most of the readmissions occurred within the first 15 days after discharge, according to the study. Most of the patients were readmitted for a different condition than the one for which they were initially hospitalized.

"We are just now recognizing that upon leaving the hospital, patients may have entered a transient period of generalized risk," senior study author Dr. Harlan Krumholz, a distinguished professor of medicine and director of the Yale-New Haven Hospital Center for Outcomes Research and Evaluat
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