Little progress has been made to lower hospital readmissions, a report concluded.
More than one in eight Medicare patients (15.9%) were readmitted to the hospital within 30 days of being released after surgery in 2010, while one in six patients (12.4%) returned to the hospital for reasons other than surgery, with both rates nearly unchanged from 2008.
The findings are based on data released by The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and based on figures from 3,000 hospitals covered in the Dartmouth Atlas Project. The national rate for readmissions following a medical discharge remaining the same in 2010 as it was in 2004, the first year the Dartmouth Atlas began studying the issue.
Dartmouth researchers examined Medicare patient populations to analyze those discharged for medical conditions and for surgical conditions, and for three common causes of medical hospitalization: congestive heart failure, acute myocardial infarctions and pneumonia.
An interactive map highlights the wide, sometime two-fold geographic variations in readmission rates.
"Although hospitals are a key venue of care, the one thing that's clear is that this is not just a hospital problem," said RWJF President and CEO Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, MD, MACP. "Patients, families, friends, and the entire community have a role to play in reducing avoidable readmissions, and to succeed we need to face this problem together."
RWJF's Care About Your Care initiative is an attempt to focus attention on the national problem of avoidable readmissions, spotlight how hospitals and communities are working to improve care, and help patients understand their role. The American College of Physicians partners with RWJF on the initiative.
Additional resources for patients, such as a tip sheet on how to avoid being readmitted to the hospital, and a hospital discharge checklist and care transition plan, are also available online.