Study Shows Hospital Readmission More Likely Following VA vs. non-VA Hospitalization for Older Veterans Living in Rural and Urban Settings
Many veterans enrolled in the VA healthcare system receive some care outside VA. Because 95% of VA healthcare enrollees older than 65 also are enrolled in Medicare, VA and non-VA use can be compared by using VA and Medicare data. Using these data, investigators in this study examined unplanned readmission rates for nearly 3 million older veterans within 30 days of hospital discharge from VA or non-VA hospitals between 1997 and 2004. They compared readmission rates for veterans living in rural (28%) versus urban settings (72%).
Overall findings show that veterans living in rural settings experienced slightly higher rates of readmission than those living in urban settings (17.96% vs. 17.86%). Regardless of where veterans lived, readmission after a VA hospitalization was more common than readmission after a non-VA hospitalization (20.7% vs. 16.8% for rural veterans; 21.2% vs. 16.1% for urban veterans). Authors suggest that VA consider using unplanned 30-day readmission rates as a component of quality assessment.
Weeks W, Lee R, Wallace A, West A, and Bagian J. Do older rural and urban veterans experience different rates of unplanned readmission to VA and non-VA hospitals? Journal of Rural Health Winter 2009;25(1):62-69.
This study was partly funded by HSR&D. Drs. Weeks, West, Bagian, and Mr. Lee are part of the VA National Center for Patient Safety; Mr. Lee and Drs. Wallace, West, and Bagian are part of the VA Outcomes Group in White River Junction, VT.