The Revolving Door: A Report on U.S. Hospital Readmissions

The Revolving Door:
A Report on U.S. Hospital Readmissions

February 11, 2013
An Analysis of Medicare Data by the Dartmouth Atlas Project
Stories from Patients and Health Care Providers by PerryUndem Research & Communication

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The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) has released a report showing that one in eight Medicare patients were readmitted to the hospital within 30 days of being released after surgery in 2010, while patients in the hospital for reasons other than surgery returned at an even higher rate of one in six. Both rates were virtually unchanged from 2008. The findings are based on new data that includes readmission rates for states, hospital referral regions, and more than 3,000 hospitals from the Dartmouth Atlas Project, largely funded by RWJF. The report, “The Revolving Door: A Report on U.S. Hospital Readmissions,” also includes the results of a novel series of in-depth interviews with patients and providers that shed light on why so many patients end up back in the hospital and what hospitals, doctors, nurses, and others are doing to limit avoidable readmissions.

The issue of patients being readmitted to the hospital is considered important because many are avoidable and, as the report notes, can occur because of differences in patient health status; the quality of inpatient care, discharge planning, and care coordination; the availability and effectiveness of local primary care; and the threshold for admission in the area. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) began reductions in Medicare reimbursement last year for hospitals with high rates of readmissions.

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The Dartmouth Atlas of Health Care is based at The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice and is supported by a coalition of funders led by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, including the WellPoint Foundation, the United Health Foundation, the California HealthCare Foundation, and the Charles H. Hood Foundation.