Does Shorter LOS Cause a Higher Readmission Rate?

January 11, 2012
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The way Medicare pays hospitals encourages shorter lengths of stay. But could those shorter stays lead to more readmissions? According to a study in JAMA:

60 percent of severe heart attack patients enrolled in the United States were discharged in three days or less, yet 14.5 percent of the U.S. patients required another stay within a month. By comparison, 54 percent of study participants in other countries spent at least six days in the hospital, leading to a 9.9 percent 30-day readmission rate.

The way Medicare pays hospitals encourages shorter lengths of stay. But could those shorter stays lead to more readmissions? According to a study in JAMA:

60 percent of severe heart attack patients enrolled in the United States were discharged in three days or less, yet 14.5 percent of the U.S. patients required another stay within a month. By comparison, 54 percent of study participants in other countries spent at least six days in the hospital, leading to a 9.9 percent 30-day readmission rate.

When the data were adjusted to account for the length of stay, the difference between U.S. readmission rates and those in other countries was greatly diminished, suggesting that the shorter length of stay in U.S. hospitals impacts readmissions.

News story. Press release.