Author(s): Merkow RP, Ju MH, Chung JW, Hall BL, Cohen ME
IMPORTANCE: Financial penalties for readmission have been expanded beyond medical conditions to include surgical procedures. Hospitals are working to reduce readmissions; however, little is known about the reasons for surgical readmission.
OBJECTIVE: To characterize the reasons, timing, and factors associated with unplanned postoperative readmissions.
DESIGN, SETTING, AND PARTICIPANTS: Patients undergoing surgery at one of 346 continuously enrolled US hospitals participating in the American College of Surgeons National Surgical Quality Improvement Program (ACS NSQIP) between January 1, 2012, and December 31, 2012, had clinically abstracted information examined. Readmission rates and reasons (ascertained by clinical data abstractors at each hospital) were assessed for all surgical procedures and for 6 representative operations: bariatric procedures, colectomy or proctectomy, hysterectomy, total hip or knee arthroplasty, ventral hernia repair, and lower extremity vascular bypass.
MAIN OUTCOMES AND MEASURES: Unplanned 30-day readmission and reason for readmission.
RESULTS: The unplanned readmission rate for the 498,875 operations was 5.7%. For the individual procedures, the readmission rate ranged from 3.8% for hysterectomy to 14.9% for lower extremity vascular bypass. The most common reason for unplanned readmission was surgical site infection (SSI) overall (19.5%) and also after colectomy or proctectomy (25.8%), ventral hernia repair (26.5%), hysterectomy (28.8%), arthroplasty (18.8%), and lower extremity vascular bypass (36.4%). Obstruction or ileus was the most common reason for readmission after bariatric surgery (24.5%) and the second most common reason overall (10.3%), after colectomy or proctectomy (18.1%), ventral hernia repair (16.7%), and hysterectomy (13.4%). Only 2.3% of patients were readmitted for the same complication they had experienced during their index hospitalization. Only 3.3% of patients readmitted for SSIs had experienced an SSI during their index hospitalization. There was no time pattern for readmission, and early (≤7 days postdischarge) and late (>7 days postdischarge) readmissions were associated with the same 3 most common reasons: SSI, ileus or obstruction, and bleeding. Patient comorbidities, index surgical admission complications, non-home discharge (hazard ratio [HR], 1.40 [95% CI, 1.35-1.46]), teaching hospital status (HR, 1.14 [95% CI 1.07-1.21]), and higher surgical volume (HR, 1.15 [95% CI, 1.07-1.25]) were associated with a higher risk of hospital readmission.
CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE: Readmissions after surgery were associated with new postdischarge complications related to the procedure and not exacerbation of prior index hospitalization complications, suggesting that readmissions after surgery are a measure of postdischarge complications. These data should be considered when developing quality indicators and any policies penalizing hospitals for surgical readmission.Gynecology & Obstetrics