Medicare Study Analyzes Diagnoses and Timing for Hospital Readmissions
According to a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association of Medicare fee-for-service claims data for 2007-2009, Medicare patients hospitalized for heart failure, heart attack and pneumonia are readmitted within 30 days for a wide variety of reasons that often differ from the cause of the initial hospitalization. Some of the readmission diagnoses include renal disorders, arrhythmias, septicemia/shock, cardiorespiratory failure and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. By examining readmission diagnoses and timing, health care professionals can institute better strategies intended to reduce high rates of 30-day readmission after hospitalization for heart failure (HF), acute myocardial infarction (MI), or pneumonia. The study found that only 35% of heart failure patients were readmitted for heart failure and only 22% of pneumonia patients were readmitted for recurrent pneumonia. While more than 60% of readmissions for the three conditions occurred within 15 days of discharge, “the entire 30-day period after discharge is one of heightened vulnerability to readmission from a wide variety of conditions.” In an effort to lower readmission rates, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) began publicly reporting 30-day risk-standardized readmission rates for heart failure (HF), acute myocardial infarction (MI), and pneumonia after these measures were endorsed by the National Quality Forum. These measures are part of a federal strategy to provide incentives to improve quality of care by reducing preventable readmissions.
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