Study: Unplanned Readmission Rates Indicative of Quality of Care

Readmission to a hospital after undergoing a surgical procedure is in many cases unplanned. It usually happens when complications develop, such as an infection. New research suggests that the likelihood of unplanned readmission is linked to the quality of the patient’s initial care.

According to researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health, higher quality hospitals have not only lower mortality rates but also lower readmission rates. Those that have implemented practices that focus on reducing readmission rates provide patients with better care. The study analyzed data from about 480,000 patients discharged from more than 3,000 hospitals.

The researchers specifically looked at six types of procedures: 

  • colon surgery;
  • coronary-artery bypass surgery;
  • hip replacement;
  • lung surgery;  
  • open repair of abdominal aortic aneurysm; and
  • closed repair of abdominal aortic aneurysm.

Within 30 days of having the surgical procedure, one in seven patients were readmitted. One of the key factors was how often these procedures were performed. For instance, hospitals that performed the fewest surgeries had higher readmission rates than those who performed the most. This would suggest that experience and implementation of systems to reduce readmissions impacts quality of care.

One of the concerns raised is ensuring that the general readmission rates (those that aren’t related to care, such as a severe illness) are considered separately from those that are specific to surgery. Especially since the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services would like to add surgical conditions to the hospital readmission reduction program. Facilities with unreasonable rates of readmission are financially penalized.

Of course, there may be legal options available if a patient has been readmitted by a preventable medical complication. Leaving a surgical instrument inside a patient and developing a life-threatening infection are examples. To learn more about rights to pursue legal action, contact an attorney at Gacovino, Lake & Associates.

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