Unscheduled hospital contacts after inpatient discharge: A national observational study of COPD and heart failure patients in England.
PLoS One. 2019;14(6):e0218128
Authors: Honeyford K, Bell D, Chowdhury F, Quint J, Aylin P, Bottle A
INTRODUCTION: Readmissions are a recognised challenge for providers of healthcare and incur financial penalties in a growing number of countries. However, the scale of unscheduled hospital contacts including attendances at emergency departments that do not result in admission is not well known. In addition, little is known about the route to readmission for patients recently discharged from an emergency hospital stay.
METHODS: This is an observational study of national hospital administration data for England. In this retrospective cohort study, we tracked patients for 30 days after discharge from an emergency admission for heart failure (HF) or chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD).
RESULTS: The majority of patients (COPD:79%; HF:75%) had no unscheduled contact with secondary health care within 30 days of discharge. Of those who did have unscheduled contact, the most common first unscheduled contact was emergency department (ED) attendance (COPD:16%; HF:18%). A further 5% of COPD patients and 4% of HF patients were admitted for an emergency inpatient stay, but not through the ED. A small percentage of patients (COPD:<1%, HF:2%) died without any known contact with secondary care. ED conversion rates at first attendance for both COPD and HF were high: 75% and 79% respectively. A quarter of patients who were not admitted during this first ED attendance attended the ED again within the 30-day follow-up period, and around half (COPD:56%; HF:63%) of these were admitted at this point. Patients who live alone, had an index admission which included an overnight stay and were comorbid had higher odds of being admitted through the ED than via other routes.
CONCLUSION: While the majority of patients did not have unscheduled contact with secondary care in the 30 days after index discharge, many patients attended the ED, often multiple times, and many were admitted to hospital, not always via the ED. More frail patients were more likely to be admitted through the ED, suggesting a possible area of focus as discharge bundles are developed.
PMID: 31194792 [PubMed - in process]