Clinical and financial impact of hospital readmissions after colorectal resection: predictors, outcomes, and costs

Rachelle N Damle, Nicole B Cherng, Julie M Flahive, Jennifer S Davids, Justin A Maykel, Paul R Sturrock, W Brian Sweeney, Karim Alavi
Diseases of the Colon and Rectum 2014, 57 (12): 1421-9

BACKGROUND: After passage of the Affordable Care Act, 30 -day hospital readmissions have come under greater scrutiny. Excess readmissions for certain medical conditions and procedures now result in penalizations on all Medicare reimbursements.

OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this work was to define the risk factors, outcomes, and costs of 30-day readmissions after colorectal surgery.

DESIGN: Adults undergoing colorectal surgery were studied using data from the University HealthSystem Consortium. Univariate and multivariable analyses were used to identify patient-related risk factors for, and 30-day outcomes of, readmission after colorectal surgery.

SETTINGS: This study was conducted at an academic hospital and its affiliates.

PATIENTS: Adults ≥18 years of age who underwent colorectal surgery for cancer, diverticular disease, IBD, or benign tumors between 2008 and 2011 were included in this study.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Readmission within 30 days of index discharge was the main outcome measured.

RESULTS: A total of 70,484 patients survived the index hospitalization after colorectal surgery; 9632 (13.7%) were readmitted within 30 days of discharge. The strongest independent predictors of readmission were length of stay ≥4 days (OR 1.44; 95% CI 1.32-1.57), stoma (OR 1.54; 95% CI 1.46-1.51), and discharge to skilled nursing (OR 1.62; 95% CI 1.49-1.76) or rehabilitation facility (OR 2.93; 95% CI 2.53-3.40). Of those readmitted, half of the readmissions occurred within 7 days, 13% required the intensive care unit, 6% had a reoperation, and 2% died during the readmission stay. The median combined total direct hospital cost was more than 2 times higher ($26,917 vs $13,817; p < 0.001) for readmitted than for nonreadmitted patients.

LIMITATIONS: Follow-up was limited to 30 days after initial discharge.

CONCLUSIONS: Readmissions after colorectal resection occur frequently and incur a significant financial burden on the health-care system. Future studies aimed at targeted interventions for high-risk patients may reduce readmissions and curb escalating health-care costs.

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