Risk factors for readmission of orthopaedic surgical patients

Elizabeth A Dailey, Amy Cizik, Jesse Kasten, Jens R Chapman, Michael J Lee
Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery. American Volume 2013 June 5, 95 (11): 1012-9

BACKGROUND: Reducing hospital readmissions has become a priority in the development of policies aimed at patient safety and cost reduction. Evaluating the incidence of rehospitalization of orthopaedic surgical patients could help to identify targets for more efficient perioperative care. We addressed two questions: What is the incidence of thirty-day readmission for orthopaedic patients at an academic hospital? Can any risk factors for readmission be identified among rehospitalized patients?

METHODS: This is a retrospective cohort study examining 3264 orthopaedic surgical admissions during two fiscal years from the hospital's quality-improvement database. Cases of patients with unplanned readmission within thirty days were subjected to univariate and multivariate analysis to determine the odds ratio (OR) for readmission. Further descriptive analysis was performed with use of electronic medical record data from the cohort of readmitted patients.

RESULTS: The estimated cumulative incidence of unplanned thirty-day readmissions was 4.2% (i.e., 138 of the 3261 patients who were eligible for the study). Multivariate analysis indicated that marital status of "widowed" significantly increased the risk of readmission (OR, 1.846; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.070 to 3.184; p = 0.03). Race significantly increased the odds of readmission in patients identified as African-American (OR, 2.178; 95% CI, 1.077 to 4.408; p = 0.03), or American Indian or Alaskan Native race (OR, 3.550; 95% CI, 1.429 to 8.815; p = 0.006). The risk of readmission was significant at p < 0.10 (OR 1.547; 95% CI, 0.941 to 2.545; p = 0.09) for patients with Medicaid insurance. Any intensive care unit stay gave the highest OR of readmission (OR, 2.356; 95% CI, 1.361 to 4.079; p = 0.002) for all demographic groups. Mean length of hospital stay was significantly longer, 5.9 days in the unplanned readmission group compared with 3.6 days for non-readmitted patients (OR, 1.038; 95% CI, 1.014 to 1.062; p = 0.002). Chart review of readmitted patients showed that 102 readmissions (73.9%) were classified as surgical; of these, thirty-five readmission events (34.3%) were for infection at the surgical site.

CONCLUSIONS: Longer length of hospital stay or admission to the intensive care unit significantly increased the likelihood of thirty-day readmission, regardless of demographics or discharge disposition. Marital status, Medicaid insurance status, and race may indicate how a patient's social and economic resources can impact his or her risk of being readmitted to the hospital.

LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: Prognostic Level II. See Instructions for Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.

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