Use of hospital-based acute care among patients recently discharged from the hospital

Anita A Vashi, Justin P Fox, Brendan G Carr, Gail D'Onofrio, Jesse M Pines, Joseph S Ross, Cary P Gross
JAMA: the Journal of the American Medical Association 2013 January 23, 309 (4): 364-71

IMPORTANCE: Current efforts to improve health care focus on hospital readmission rates as a marker of quality and on the effectiveness of transitions in care during the period after acute care is received. Emergency department (ED) visits are also a marker of hospital-based acute care following discharge but little is known about ED use during this period.

OBJECTIVES: To determine the degree to which ED visits and hospital readmissions contribute to overall use of acute care services within 30 days of discharge from acute care hospitals, to describe the reasons patients return for ED visits, and to describe these patterns among Medicare beneficiaries and those not covered by Medicare insurance.

DESIGN, SETTING, AND PARTICIPANTS: Prospective study of patients aged 18 years or older (mean age: 53.4 years) who were discharged between July 1, 2008, and September 31, 2009, from acute care hospitals in 3 large, geographically diverse states (California, Florida, and Nebraska) with data recorded in the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project state inpatient and ED databases.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: The 3 primary outcomes during the 30-day period after hospital discharge were ED visits not resulting in admission (treat-and-release encounters), hospital readmissions from any source, and a combined measure of ED visits and hospital readmissions termed hospital-based acute care.

RESULTS: The final cohort included 5,032,254 index hospitalizations among 4,028,555 unique patients. In the 30 days following discharge, 17.9% (95% CI, 17.9%-18.0%) of hospitalizations resulted in at least 1 acute care encounter. Of these 1,233,402 postdischarge acute care encounters, ED visits comprised 39.8% (95% CI, 39.7%-39.9%). For every 1000 discharges, there were 97.5 (95% CI, 97.2-97.8) ED treat-and-release visits and 147.6 (95% CI, 147.3-147.9) hospital readmissions in the 30 days following discharge. The number of ED treat-and-release visits ranged from a low of 22.4 (95% CI, 4.6-65.4) encounters per 1000 discharges for breast malignancy to a high of 282.5 (95% CI, 209.7-372.4) encounters per 1000 discharges for uncomplicated benign prostatic hypertrophy. Among the highest volume discharges, the most common reason patients returned to the ED was always related to their index hospitalization.

CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE: After discharge from acute care hospitals in 3 states, ED visits within 30 days were common among adults and accounted for 39.8% of postdischarge hospital-based acute care visits. Improving care transitions should focus not only on decreasing readmissions but also on ED visits.

Full Text Links

Find Full Text Links for this Article


You are not logged in. Sign Up or Log In to join the discussion.

Related Papers

Remove bar
Read by QxMD icon Read

Search Tips

Use Boolean operators: AND/OR

diabetic AND foot
diabetes OR diabetic

Exclude a word using the 'minus' sign

Virchow -triad

Use Parentheses

water AND (cup OR glass)

Add an asterisk (*) at end of a word to include word stems

Neuro* will search for Neurology, Neuroscientist, Neurological, and so on

Use quotes to search for an exact phrase

"primary prevention of cancer"
(heart or cardiac or cardio*) AND arrest -"American Heart Association"