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Rich/Poor Divide Linked to Hospital Readmissions in Study
Date:2/15/2013

FRIDAY, Feb. 15 (HealthDay News) -- The divide between rich and poor in the state where you live may affect your risk of being readmitted to the hospital, according to a new report.

For the study, researchers looked at "income inequality," which they described as "the degree to which income is unevenly distributed within a society," and its impact on Medicare readmissions and deaths within 30 days of hospital discharge.

The researchers found that in states with the greatest income inequality, there were nearly 40,000 extra hospital readmissions over a three-year period in the United States. But they also found, in the report published online Feb. 15 in the BMJ, income inequality was not associated with an increased risk of death.

The study authors noted that the findings held true even after they adjusted for individual levels of income and education.

In conducting the study, researchers led by Dr. Peter Lindenauer, an associate professor of medicine at the Center for Quality of Care Research at Baystate Medical Center in Springfield, Mass., examined information on Medicare patients who had been admitted to the hospital due to a heart attack, heart failure or pneumonia.

For the study, the researchers' mortality (deaths) analyses included 2.7 million admissions to 4,500 hospitals, and their readmission analyses included 3.2 million admissions to 4,500 hospitals.

The investigators also analyzed data from the U.S. Census Bureau in order to compare the states with the three highest quarters of income inequality with the states in the lowest quarter.

Income inequality was not associated with an increased risk of death within 30 days for patients who had been admitted for a heart attack, heart failure or pneumonia, the study found. However, the findings revealed that patients exposed to greater levels of income inequality were at increased risk for readmission within 30 days of being disc
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