Health Services Research & Development

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May P, Garrido MM, Del Fabbro E, Noreika D, Normand C, Skoro N, Cassel JB. Evaluating Hospital Readmissions for Persons With Serious and Complex Illness: A Competing Risks Approach. Medical care research and review : MCRR. 2019 Jan 18; 1077558718823919.
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Abstract: Hospital readmission rate is a ubiquitous measure of efficiency and quality. Individuals with life-limiting illnesses account heavily for admissions but evaluation is complicated by high-mortality rates. We report a retrospective cohort study examining the association between palliative care (PC) and readmissions while controlling for postdischarge mortality with a competing risks approach. Eligible participants were adult inpatients admitted to an academic, safety-net medical center (2009-2015) with at least one diagnosis of cancer, heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, liver failure, kidney failure, AIDS/HIV, and selected neurodegenerative conditions. PC was associated with reduced 30-, 60-, and 90-day readmissions (subhazard ratios = 0.57, 0.53, and 0.52, respectively [all p < .001]). Hospital PC is associated with a reduction in readmissions, and this is not explained by higher mortality among PC patients. Performance measures only counting those alive at a given end point may underestimate systematically the effects of treatments with a high-mortality rate.