SAEM: More ED patients getting readmitted

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Emergency department patients who have recently been hospitalized are more than twice as likely to be readmitted as those who have not recently been in the hospital, according to new research from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. The research will be presented this week at the Society for Academic Emergency Medicine's annual meeting in Boston.

"Patients who return to the emergency department within seven days of hospitalization have both relatively high and increasing rates of readmission," said lead author Zachary F. Meisel, MD, MPH, MSc, an emergency physician and a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Clinical Scholar at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.

Looking at data from the National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey, Meisel and colleagues analyzed a sample of approximately 2.3 million emergency room visits from each year between 2005 and 2008. They found that hospital readmission rates for recently hospitalized patients increased for each year of the study—from 28.6 percent to 38 percent.

Admission rates for patients not recently hospitalized increased at a lesser rate, from 15.3 percent to 17.2 percent, according to Meisel. “These findings do not appear to be driven by differences in age or the system of triaging sick or injured patients who seek help in the emergency room.”

Meisel concluded that the findings provide future research opportunities such as devloping a better understanding of why recently discharged patients are more likely to be admitted to the hospital than people who have not recently been in the hospital.