OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the primary diagnoses and patterns of 30 day readmissions and potentially avoidable readmissions in medical patients with each of the most common comorbidities.
DESIGN: Retrospective cohort study.
SETTING: Academic tertiary medical centre in Boston, 2009-10.
PARTICIPANTS: 10,731 consecutive adult discharges from a medical department.
MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Primary readmission diagnoses of readmissions within 30 days of discharge and potentially avoidable 30 day readmissions to the index hospital or two other hospitals in its network.
RESULTS: Among 10,731 discharges, 2398 (22.3%) were followed by a 30 day readmission, of which 858 (8.0%) were identified as potentially avoidable. Overall, infection, neoplasm, heart failure, gastrointestinal disorder, and liver disorder were the most frequent primary diagnoses of potentially avoidable readmissions. Almost all of the top five diagnoses of potentially avoidable readmissions for each comorbidity were possible direct or indirect complications of that comorbidity. In patients with a comorbidity of heart failure, diabetes, ischemic heart disease, atrial fibrillation, or chronic kidney disease, the most common diagnosis of potentially avoidable readmission was acute heart failure. Patients with neoplasm, heart failure, and chronic kidney disease had a higher risk of potentially avoidable readmissions than did those without those comorbidities.
CONCLUSIONS: The five most common primary diagnoses of potentially avoidable readmissions were usually possible complications of an underlying comorbidity. Post-discharge care should focus attention not just on the primary index admission diagnosis but also on the comorbidities patients have.