Unplanned Readmissions After Hospitalization for Severe Sepsis at Academic Medical Center-Affiliated Hospitals

John P Donnelly, Samuel F Hohmann, Henry E Wang
Critical Care Medicine 2015, 43 (9): 1916-27

OBJECTIVE: In the United States, national efforts to reduce hospital readmissions have been enacted, including the application of substantial insurance reimbursement penalties for hospitals with elevated rates. Readmissions after severe sepsis remain understudied and could possibly signify lapses in care and missed opportunities for intervention. We sought to characterize 7- and 30-day readmission rates following hospital admission for severe sepsis as well as institutional variations in readmission.

DESIGN: Retrospective analysis of 345,657 severe sepsis discharges from University HealthSystem Consortium hospitals in 2012.

SETTING: United States.

PATIENTS: We applied the commonly cited method described by Angus et al for identification of severe sepsis, including only discharges with sepsis present at admission.


MEASUREMENTS AND MAIN RESULTS: We identified unplanned, all-cause readmissions within 7 and 30 days of discharge using claims-based algorithms. Using mixed-effects logistic regression, we determined factors associated with 30-day readmission. We used risk-standardized readmission rates to assess institutional variations. Among 216,328 eligible severe sepsis discharges, there were 14,932 readmissions within 7 days (6.9%; 95% CI, 6.8-7.0) and 43,092 within 30 days (19.9%; 95% CI, 19.8-20.1). Among those readmitted within 30 days, 66.9% had an infection and 40.3% had severe sepsis at readmission. Patient severity, length of stay, and specific diagnoses were associated with increased odds of 30-day readmission. Observed institutional 7-day readmission rates ranged from 0% to 12.3%, 30-day rates from 3.6% to 29.1%, and 30-day risk-standardized readmission rates from 14.1% to 31.1%. Greater institutional volume, teaching status, trauma services, location in the Northeast, and lower ICU rates were associated with poor risk-standardized readmission rate performance.

CONCLUSIONS: Severe sepsis readmission places a substantial burden on the healthcare system, with one in 15 and one in five severe sepsis discharges readmitted within 7 and 30 days, respectively. Hospitals and clinicians should be aware of this important sequela of severe sepsis.

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