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Hospital Readmissions are Not the Enemy

By John Commins  
   September 19, 2016

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has all but declared war on readmissions. But one researcher suggests that the relationship between readmission rates and quality is flawed.

Researchers and physicians at The Johns Hopkins Hospital are challenging the notion that readmissions are an accurate measure of quality.

In a study this month in Journal of Hospital Medicine, hospitalist Daniel J. Brotman, MD, and his colleagues examined nearly 4,500 acute-care hospitals' hospital-wide readmission rates and compared them with those hospitals' mortality rates in six areas used by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services: heart attack, pneumonia, heart failure, stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and coronary artery bypass.

The researchers found that hospitals with the highest rates of readmission were more likely to show better mortality scores in patients treated for heart failure, COPD, and stroke.

Adjusted odds ratios indicated that patients treated at hospitals that had more readmitted patients had a fractionally better chance at survival than patients who were cared for at hospitals with lower readmission rates.

Brotman spoke with HealthLeaders Media about the findings. The following is an edited transcript.

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John Commins is a senior editor at HealthLeaders.


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