A recent study of 66,741,340 hospital discharge records examined risk-standardized 30-day risk of unplanned inpatient readmission at the hospital level for Medicare patients ages sixty-five and older in four states and for three conditions: acute myocardial infarction, heart failure, and pneumonia. The states: Arizona, California, Florida, and New York.
Four Key Findings About Readmissions:
- Hospital-level readmissions were low at the 30-day cutoff.
- Readmissions were higher within the first several days after discharge reaching the lowest point around seven days. This suggest that a five-to-seven-day interval would better capture hospital-attributable readmissions, particularly when compared to intervals of 30, 60, or 90 days.
- The hospital quality signal is higher in the first five days after discharge than at longer time periods, such as 30-days. This suggests that hospitals’ practices with respect to care coordination and post-discharge follow-up could have the greatest impact within the first few days after discharge.
The optimal interval for capturing hospital-level variation in the risk of readmission appears to vary across conditions. For example, the acute myocardial infarction patients had the greatest increase in hospital-level variation after the tenth post-discharge day.